Soweto – Visiting US First Lady Michelle Obama will spend the third day of her visit inspiring a new generation of women leaders in Soweto.
She is set to address a conference attended by over 75 women aged 16 to 30, who are playing leadership roles across the continent. The women are taking part in the two-day meeting – the Young African Women Leaders Forum.
Obama is set to deliver a keynote address around 10am at Regina Mundi Church in Soweto, one of the many churches that became political gathering spots during the anti-apartheid struggle.
The First Lady has a packed schedule that includes a trip to the memorial for Hector Pieterson, also in Soweto. Pieterson was killed at the age of 12 during the Soweto uprising in 1976.
The church is a hive of activity with delegates arriving, including National Freedom Party leader Zanele Magwaza-Msibi; the Democratic Alliance’s Lindiwe Mazibuko; Soweto business mogul Richard Maponya; former Miss SA and businesswoman Basetsana Khumalo; and current Miss SA Bokang Montjane.
Former President Nelson Mandela’s wife Graca Machel is also expected to arrive.
Media, both local and international, braved the chilly winter morning and started arriving from as early as 4am for security checks. Delegates started trickling in from 6am.
A heavy police presence could be seen outside the church, with dozens of metro police cars and police parked at various entry points, as well as American private security.
Obama is loved by black women everywhere for her example as an ivy-league educated, well accomplished attorney, who is also a devoted wife, doting mom, and caring daughter to her own mother.
“[She] not only has brains but power, confidence and humility – now that’s an awesome combination,” said Relebogile Mutaung, who is attending the event.
“She is a woman that encompasses all the attributes of an intelligent, strong, hard working, woman,” Zimbabwean-born Brendah Nyakudya told BuaNews.
Nyakudya took the lead by building schools in 2005 after reading some disturbing research that showed that children who never went to preschool had a higher probability of actually dropping out of school at a later stage.
“Today we have three sponsored schools where children are not only educated but clothed and fed as well,” Nyakudya said. – BuaNews