Cape Town, South Africa (PANA) - US First Lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday called on the youth of South Africa to play their part in ending the AIDS epidemic, which has ravaged parts of the country and the continent.
Addressing about 1,000 people at the Regina Mundi church in Soweto, Obama said the anti-apartheid liberation heroes and American civil rights leaders shared much in common.
“You are the heirs of that blood, sweat, sacrifice and love, so the question is, what will you make of that inheritance?”
She answered that they could be the generation that ends HIV/AIDS: “The generation that fights not just the disease but the stigma of the disease, the generation that teaches the world that HIV is fully preventable and treatable and should never be a source of shame.”
Obama later visited a memorial to Hector Pieterson, the first casualty of the June 1976 Soweto uprising that eventually led to the collapse of Apartheid.
Along with Pieterson's sister, Antoinette Sithole, she laid a bouquet of flowers at the memorial, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year.
On Tuesday, Obama had a rare meeting with world statesman Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, where the South Africa’s first democratically elected president met Obama and her two daughters, Malia and Sasha, for about one hour.
Mandela, who turns 93 next month, has received few guests since he was diagnosed with an acute respiratory infection in January.
On Thursday, the Obamas will visit Mandela's former prison at Robben Island and meet Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu in Cape Town, before heading to neighbouring Botswana for a safari on Saturday.
Although Barack Obama did not accompany his family on this trip, he met Mandela in 2006, when he toured Africa as an Illinois Senator.
-0- PANA CU/BOS 22June2011