— U.S. President Barack Obama begins a day of events in South Africa Saturday, continuing a three-nation African tour. Obama spoke on Air Force One before his arrival about lessons young Africans can learn from former South African president Nelson Mandela.
Obama was last in South Africa in 2006 as a U.S. senator. Now, he has returned, as the first African-American president of the United States, seeking to re-engage with the continent during his second term.
On Saturday in Pretoria, South African President Jacob Zuma formally welcomes Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. After bilateral talks, the two presidents hold a news conference. President Zuma hosts a state dinner later.
Obama holds a town hall-style meeting in Soweto, the Johannesburg township that played such a pivotal role during protests against apartheid, the former racial segregation system in force during white minority rule.
As part of Obama's Young African Leaders Initiative, he will answer questions from South Africans and young people participating from Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya in a televised event.
Listen to Robinson's audio with President Obama:
President Obama wants to expand the initiative into an exchange program to bring young Africans to the United States in the coming years, working with American educational institutions, including historically black universities.
He spoke about this in a radio interview as he flew into South Africa aboard Air Force One.
"That we hope can identify as many as 500 outstanding young leaders all across Africa to participate in visiting the United States, getting training programs, getting the kinds of skills they are going to need that they can then take back to their countries," said President Obama.
Obama was also asked about the message he will deliver here, especially when South Africans are focused on the health of former president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.
He said his message would be "consistent" with one of the central lessons of Mandela's life, saying that Africa's rise will continue if African countries are unified and not divided by tribe or race or religion.
In his media interview, Obama linked the legacy of Mandela, whom he met briefly in Washington in 2005, with what he believes is the great potential and promise of new generations of Africans.
"He showed that when you lead with integrity, when you are more concerned about what is right than simply being in power, you can perform miracles. You can bring about incredible change," said Obama.
Obama played down expectations of a visit with the 94-year-old Mandela, saying "I don't need a photo op" and adding that he does not want to be obtrusive at a time when Mandela's family is concerned with his condition.
Rather than visiting Mandela in the hospital, the president and his wife will meet with the family.
The president said the thoughts and prayers of the American people are with Nelson Mandela, his family, and his country - sentiment he said is universally shared.
Obama and his family will spend just over two days in South Africa, before heading Monday to Tanzania on the final stop of his trip.
U.S. President Barack Obama heads a soccer ball at Ubungo Power Plant in Dar es Salaam, July 2, 2013. The ball called a "soccket ball" has internal electronics that allows it to generate and store electricity that can power small devices.
U.S. First lady Michelle Obama walks with Salma Kikwete, wife of Tanzania's president, during a departure ceremony in Dar es Salaam, July 2, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama and former president George W. Bush (left) attend a memorial for the victims of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombing in Dar es Salaam, July 2, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, and Tanzanian first lady Salma Kikwete wave as they arrive at State House in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 1, 2013.
President Barack Obama and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete walk in front of Michelle Obama and Salma Kikwete as they arrive at the State House in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 1, 2013.
Young girls and women wear the khanga, a traditional wrap, with the image of U.S. President Barack Obama as they line up to greet him at the State House, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 1, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama writes in a guest book as he tours Robben Island with first lady Michelle Obama, near Cape Town, June 30, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama departs the Robben Island prison cell where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment near Cape Town, June 30, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama listens to Desmond Tutu as he visits his HIV Foundation Youth Center and takes part in a health event in Cape Town, June 30, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama greets participants at a town hall-style meeting with young African leaders at the University of Johannesburg in Soweto, June 29, 2013.
Members of the White House traveling staff walk to a group of helicopters about to transport U.S. President Barack Obama from a soccer field in Johannesburg, June 29, 2013.
Protesters argue with police outside the University of Johannesburg in Soweto, ahead of a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama, June 29, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama look out of a doorway that slaves departed from on Goree Island, Senegal, June 27, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama visits a food security expo in Dakar, Senegal, June 28, 2013.
People line the motorcade route of U.S. President Barack Obama on his way to meet with Senegalese President Macky Sall in Dakar, June 27, 2013.