First Lady Michelle Obama Participates in Community Service in Soweto Johannesburg

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A Native Texan who adores baby kittens, loves horses, rodeos, pomegranates, & collect Eagles. Enjoys politics, games shows, & dancing to all types of music. Loves discussing and learning about different cultures. A Phi Theta Kappa lifetime member with a passion for Social & Civil Justice.
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19 Responses to First Lady Michelle Obama Participates in Community Service in Soweto Johannesburg

  1. First Lady fever at Regina MundiFirst Lady fever at Regina Mundi

    On June 22, 2011, I walked into the Regina Mundi church in Soweto, after having been searched like a criminal by the American Secret Service, to find myself among thousands who had gathered to hear an address by the US First Lady, Michelle Obama. How lucky was I? Well, I was one of 2 000 “invitations only” guests at the church, that’s how lucky I was!

    Hosted by the American Embassy, the US Ambassador to South Africa, Donald Gips, and his wife Elizabeth, Obama addressed the guests, including members of the Young African Women Leaders’ Forum, on issue of building a solid leadership mindset on the continent.

    The area behind the church pulpit was decorated with flowers that stood on pedestals, while the illuminated stained-glass windows on the left of the church depicted moments of South Africa’s liberation struggle. The atmosphere was tense with excitement as school children and invited guests waited in anticipation for the First Lady; I too was among the excited.

    Slowly the choir rose and began to sing. They were wearing brightly-coloured, traditional Xhosa attire and danced rhythmically to their songs. The audience (myself included) began to sing along, giving the event a warm and welcoming South African feel. It was almost as if I was at my own church.

    Graça Machel, wife of former South African president Nelson Mandela, delivered the most beautiful introduction that prefaced Obama’s speech. “We welcome you as a daughter of African heritage, and we can call you the queen of our world,” said Machel. I agree; Michelle Obama may definitely be the current queen of our world!

    Finally, after applause and song, the moment of Obama’s much-anticipated speech had arrived. As she approached the stage, holding clasped hands to her chest while fighting back tears, one could see she was moved by her introduction and welcoming. “I want to start by thanking Graça Machel for that just gracious, kind introduction. It is overwhelming,” she said.

    Her speech drew on the history of Regina Mundi, which means ”queen of the world” in Latin, paying tribute to leaders of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and the civil rights movement in the US, urging the young women in the audience to follow their example.

    “The young people of this continent – you are the heirs of that blood, sweat, sacrifice and love,” she said.

    At this point in time I was holding back tears.

    Obama spoke out strongly in favour of women’s rights and called for education of women to help uplift them from their “second-class citizens” mentally. She also urged for the end of women abuse, saying that the issue “isn’t just a women’s rights violation – it’s a human rights violation”. Again, I could not agree more. She believes that this generation of young women leaders on the continent could also be the one that overcomes the difficulties associated with HIV/AIDS.

    For 45 minutes Michelle Obama spoke with conviction, passion, elegance and grace that moved me and many other women to tears. Her speech was beautifully inspiring.

    She concluded with the famous slogan from her husband’s 2008 campaign to inspire and urge young women to become proactive members of change for women empowerment in Africa. “If anyone ever tells you that you shouldn’t or you can’t, then I want you to say with one voice – the voice of a generation – you tell them, ‘yes, we can’,” she said.

    Yes, I can too!

    This concluded one of the most inspirationally-moving speeches I have ever heard, and after having had the opportunity to be a part of the event I realised how lucky I am to have been at a once-in-a-lifetime occasion that I would have not missed for the world.

    Ok, I’m crying again! That’s all I can write right now…

    • Ametia says:

      I thouroughly enjoyed reading about the experiences of these young women who got to be with our FLOTUS. Nthabiseng Shongwe’s account here is so precicous. It was history in the making to be regaled by the First Black First Lady of the USA. Great piece; thank you for posting this, SG2.

      • You’re welcome! I stumbled upon it and I’m so happy I did. Isn’t it wonderful?! I’m so glad I found the site. I wish the site had a video clip of the Choir at Regina Mundi Church. I want to hear the choir sing! I’m going to keep looking until I find it. If anyone find the video of the Sowetan Choir singing to our beautiful Michelle, please post the link. 3 Chics would appreciate it so much. Thank you in advance!


    Marvellous Mathebula, 15, one of the mentors, said the first lady’s message of the importance of working to transform your community touched a nerve with her.

    “It’s supporting children to succeed rather than to be in the streets,” she said of her own community work.
    Mathebula had another thought about Michelle Obama: “I just wish that she was my mother.”


  3. Michelle Obama inspires Soweto
    US first lady tells South African children: “Yes, you can!”

    SOWETO, South Africa – To the young African women who crammed into the pews of a Soweto church to hear Michelle Obama speak, the message from the glamorous U.S. first lady was time-worn but still inspirational: “Yes, you can.”

    In the United States it may have become hackneyed, but the slogan has resonance in South Africa’s biggest black township, where unemployment and poverty remain widespread. The catchphrase from her husband’s 2008 presidential campaign had the crowd at Regina Mundi Church chanting along.

    In South Africa, more than half of 15- to 24-year-olds are unemployed — and that’s only counting those actively seeking jobs. Obama’s message of encouragement, and the story of her own background as a descendant of slaves — raised in a one-bedroom Chicago apartment — struck a powerful chord with young people attending her address to the U.S.-sponsored Young African Women Leaders Forum.

    Onthatile Mataboge, 22, who had travelled to the church with a group of top high school students from the South African city of Rustenburg, said the first lady’s personal history was motivational.

    “The background we come from doesn’t determine where we are going,” she said.

    “I have always thought that she was humble and today confirmed it,” added Mmakgota Rakuba, 23. “It was like she was talking to me.”

    In a 30-minute address to a crowd that included cultural leaders, students in school uniforms, government and opposition politicians and a Zulu choir in traditional beaded hats, Obama drew parallels between the black struggle movements in South Africa and the United States.

    Thirty-five years ago this month, students sought refuge at Regina Mundi Church as they fled a police assault on young people protesting forced Afrikaans-language instruction in schools, Obama recounted to the crowd.

    It was June 16, 1976, the start of the Soweto Uprising and a key moment in South Africa’s history, that eventually led to the fall of white rule.

    Hundreds were killed by apartheid-era security forces in the crackdown. Police even opened fire inside the church, where scores of people were injured and evidence of the assault is still visible.

    “It has been more than three decades, but those bullet holes in the ceiling, this broken altar still stand as vivid reminders of the history that unfolded here,” Obama said.

    Petronice Makwane, 64, a Catholic who has attended the church since it opened in 1964, described Michelle Obama’s speech as deeply moving.

    “It was like having a president here,” Makwane said. “She was so powerful.”

  4. Obama: ‘Yes, Africa can’

  5. Ametia says:

    OK, I’ve got chills listening to First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech. AFRICA= INTERCONNECTEDNESS. Go on and tell it, FLOTUS, YES.WE.CAN!

  6. U.S. first lady Michelle Obama is embraced by an audience member at Regina Mundi Church after she addressed the Young African Women Leaders Forum, in a Soweto township, Johannesburg, South Africa, Wednesday, June 22, 2011

  7. U.S. first lady Michelle Obama embraces an audience member after she speaks at Regina Mundi Church and addresses the Young African Women Leaders Forum, in a Soweto township, Johannesburg, South Africa, Wednesday, June 22, 2011

  8. I love seeing this. So inspiring!

    Go Flotus! You rock!

  9. rikyrah says:

    I can’t even begin to express how much I am enjoying these pics from South Africa. they are so fully embracing our FLOTUS and our First Family. the love is evident.

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