It should come as no surprise that South Africa is embracing First Lady Michelle Obama’s visit with a fervor. While South Africa has traditional shown an ambivalence, at best, towards America, they are embracing Obama as one of their own.
On Wednesday, as Michelle Obama was about to speak at the Regina Mundi Church, Nelson Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, introduced Obama.As Ms. Machel said,
“We welcome you as a daughter of African heritage, and we can call you the queen of our world.”
Most of the speeches that she has delivered since she arrived on Monday have focused on the commonality in the struggles for black people in both countries. This clever approach has certainly resonated with the South African people.
Those Who Sacrifice
During her speech at the Regina Mundi Church, Mrs. Obama talked about those who have protested in both countries “who marched until their feet were raw, who endured beatings and bullets and decades behind bars, who risked and sacrificed everything they had for the freedom they deserved.”She went on to say that,
“It is because of them that I stand here before you as first lady of the United States of America.”
The White House has certainly hoped that Mrs. Obama’s trip would help to melt the frosty feelings that have endured between the two countries since the Cold War.
Fascinating with Obama
Jay Naidoo, a cabinet member from Mr. Mandela’s first government who is now a philanthropist, seemed to sum up the hero’s welcome. He explained that, “People are fascinated by the fact that we have a black woman first lady. There’s a fascination that a black couple is in the White House. It’s unbelievable.”Mrs. Obama has, so far, spent time at the apartheid museum and the Nelson Mandela Foundation. She was privy, as well, to a courtesy call with Nelson Mandela, whose failing health has kept him from more regular visits with dignitaries as of late.Mrs. Obama reported that Mr. Mandela “looked strong, he looked good, he looked … happy.”