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IMAGES: Michelle Obama's candid moments with the Mandelas

Last updated on: June 22, 2011 10:29 IST

IMAGES: Michelle Obama's candid moments with the Mandelas

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A surprise visit to world icon Nelson Mandela at his home and advice for 75 young African leaders at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg were the highlights of the first day of a three-day visit to South Africa by United States First Lady Michelle Obama.

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Image: First Lady Michelle Obama and former SA president Nelson Mandela read his latest book Nelson Madela by Himself at his house in Johannesburg
Photographs: Flickr
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Michelle Obama's candid moments with the Mandelas

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Obama, accompanied by her two daughters, a niece, a nephew and her mother, met South Africa's first democratically elected president Mandela at his home, even though her schedule did not include this visit.

The first lady was viewing some of Mandela's personal papers at his foundation in Johannesburg when, according to White House officials, he sent word that he wanted to meet her and her family. They went to his house for what was Mrs Obama's first meeting with the 92-year-old leader.

Image: Michelle Obama, accompanied by her daughters, Malia and Sasha, meet Mandela at this home
Photographs: Flickr
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Michelle Obama's candid moments with the Mandelas

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The Obama party visited the Nelson Mandela Foundation where Mandela's wife Graca Machel joined them as they visited exhibits of Mandela's 27 years as a political prisoner.

Mandela, who turns 93 next month, rarely receives guests after a worldwide scare over his health following a respiratory infection in January.

Image: Michelle Obama walks with Nelson Mandela's wife Graca Machel as she visits the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg
Photographs: Charles Dharapak/Reuters
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Michelle Obama's candid moments with the Mandelas

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Earlier in the day, Obama met Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma, one of President Jacob Zuma's wives and took the time to personally greet almost every one of about 100 guests.

"From kings to ministers and then myself, Obama gave each individual her undivided attention," tweeted actress Precious Kofi.

Image: Michelle Obama dances with children as she visits the Emthonjeni Community Center in Zandspruit Township, Johannesburg
Photographs: Charles Dharapak/Reuters
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Michelle Obama's candid moments with the Mandelas

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After the Mandela meeting, Obama went to the Apartheid Museum to advise the waiting young girls to consider themselves as important as anyone else.

While Obama may have charmed those she met, she left the media and Johannesburg motorists somewhat frustrated.

Image: Obama, accompanied by daughters Sasha and Malia, visits the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg
Photographs: Charles Dharapak/Reuters
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Michelle Obama's candid moments with the Mandelas

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There were no interviews or comments to the media, and many motorists were upset at the traffic jams that resulted after several main routes across the city were cordoned off during peak hours to allow Obama's convoy to pass unhindered.

Image: Michelle Obama meets children at the Emthonjeni Community Center in Zandspruit Township
Photographs: Reuters
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Michelle Obama's candid moments with the Mandelas

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A huge crowd is expected on Tuesday at the Regina Mundi Church in Soweto, where Obama will deliver an address after visiting the adjacent memorial for Hector Pieterson.

Image: Obama, her mother Marian Robinson (back facing camera), daughters, nephew Avery Robinson and niece Leslie Robinson dance with children and caretakers at the community centre
Photographs: Reuters
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Michelle Obama's candid moments with the Mandelas

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The last day of the visit will include a visit to Robben Island, where Mandela and others were detained for decades as political prisoners, as well as a courtesy call on Nobel Laureate and former Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Obama will also go to Botswana after that.

Image: Obama chats with Sello Hatang of the Nelson Mandela Foundation
Photographs: Charles Dharapak/Reuters
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