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Obama throws down a challenge Print E-mail
22 June 2011

Yes you can, Michelle Obama tells young Joburg. You can be the generation that ends HIV and Aids, and that holds your leaders accountable.

YOUNG women in Soweto were challenged by the United States first lady, Michelle Obama, to unite in fighting socio-economic challenges in their communities.

 

Laying a wreath at the Hector Pietersen Memorial
Laying a wreath at the Hector Pietersen Memorial
Speaking to a packed Regina Mundi Catholic Church on 22 June, Obama said women should unite in fighting hunger, corruption and the HIV/Aids stigma.

 

“You can be the generation that teaches the world that HIV is preventable, treatable and not a source of shame. You can be the generation that ensures that women are no longer second class citizens,” she said, adding there were still many causes for which it was worth making sacrifices.

Obama received a warm welcome from the audience, who had waited enthusiastically to hear her. Many held posters, bearing the words, “We love you, Michelle”; others hooted when she waved at them.

Her visit to Soweto is part of a six day official tour to South Africa and Botswana. She is accompanied by her mother, Marian Robinson, and her daughters, Malia and Sasha Obama.

Known for her advocacy for human rights, Obama highlighted some of South Africa’s history and the significance role women had played in changing the country’s political landscape. She also spoke of the late struggle stalwart, Albertina Sisulu.

Young women were challenged to carry through the legacy of heroic women and leaders in South Africa.

 

Children welcome Michelle Obama to Soweto
Children welcome Michelle Obama to Soweto
In reference to Youth Month, Obama honoured the class of 1976 and encouraged young people today to fight for what they believed in. “What generation will you be?” she asked, quoting her husband’s famous campaign slogan, “Yes we can.”

 

“No matter how young, you are ready now to make the difference,” she said.

“You can be the generation that ends HIV and Aids in our time, the generation that fights not just the disease, but the stigma of the disease.

“You can be the generation that holds your leaders accountable for open, honest government at every level, government that stamps out corruption.”

In a convoy of cars, Obama proceeded to the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Orlando, where scores of schoolchildren greeted her with songs.
At the memorial, the American visitors laid a wreath in honour of those schoolchildren who died during the June 16 1976 student uprising.

She will end her South African visit on 23 June in Cape Town, where she will tour Robben Island and meet Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

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Last Updated on 29 June 2011