Michelle Obama to Mandela meeting: 'Very surreal'

AP News
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Posted: Jun 22, 2011 8:43 AM
Michelle Obama to Mandela meeting: 'Very surreal'

Michelle Obama says her meeting with Nelson Mandela was a "surreal experience" that she's still trying to process.

She also described the encounter as overwhelming because she never thought she'd ever meet the former South African president and leader of the anti-apartheid struggle.

The U.S. first lady is on a weeklong visit to South Africa and Botswana. She is traveling with her two daughters, her mother, a niece and a nephew.

They all got to meet Mandela Tuesday at his home in Johannesburg.

Mrs. Obama reflected on the get-together Wednesday in an interview with U.S. reporters who accompanied her on the trip.

Earlier, she said in a speech that leadership isn't limited to age or status in life. Mrs. Obama said the world is looking to its young people to be the next generation of problem-solvers.

That was the message she brought to a U.S.-sponsored forum of young women leaders from the continent, who were meeting in Johannesburg.

Sixty percent of Africa's population is under age 25. And in South Africa, two-thirds of its people are younger than 30.

Mrs. Obama urged her listeners to be the ones who banish hunger and end HIV/AIDS.

She spoke at the Regina Mundi Church in Soweto township, which was a religious hub and sanctuary during the anti-apartheid uprisings 35 years ago.