#YoungAfrica: Michelle Obama Inspires Young Leaders

Photo: First Lady Michelle Obama addressing the Young African Women Leaders Forum at Regina Mundi church in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa. (Getty Images)

After a trip to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa, Mrs. Obama and the first daughters made their way to historic Regina Mundi Church in the South Western Township, or Soweto. There, the First Lady paid homage to the young activists who fought for change a generation ago, and to 76 young women making those same strides today.

The fight began 35 years ago when a group of students peacefully protested a law that would require them to take their courses in Afrikaans. Their desire to get the education they deserved was met with retaliation, leaving hundreds dead.

“And it is because of them that we are able to gather here today,” Mrs. Obama said. “It is because of them that so many of these young women leaders can now pursue their dreams. It is because of them that I stand before you as First Lady of the United States of America.”

Mrs. O went on to explain the importance of Africa’s role in the future of all nations. Sixty percent of Africans are under age 25, and two-thirds of South Africans are under age 30. The African youth of today, no doubt, will play a huge role as future leaders–combating corruption, building a strong democracy, battling disease and poverty, and creating jobs.

“I know that often when you try to make your voices heard, sometimes people don’t always listen,” she said. “I know there are those who discount your opinions, who tell you you’re not ready, who say that you should sit back and wait your turn. But I am here today because when it comes to the challenges we face, we simply don’t have time to sit back and wait. I’m here because I believe that each of you is ready, right here and right now, to start meeting these challenges.”

Photo: Young children hold up signs welcoming U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama at the Hector Pieterson memorial site in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa. (Getty Images)

The First Lady believes this generation is the generation to enlist equality and fairness, to end hunger and violence against women, to stamp out HIV/AIDS, and ensure all girls receive an education.

Mrs. Obama also stopped by the Nanga Vhutshilo Community Center, a community-based program that provides support for children affected by AIDS. She got her hands dirty in the garden, busted out with the Dougie again and talked with the children about Soulja Boy… natch.

Continuing on, Mrs. Obama, Sasha and Malia will make their way to Gaborone, Botswana, on Thursday and will stay until Sunday. Keep up with the action right here on Act or by following the hashtag #YoungAfrica on Twitter.

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Inspired to Serve

Inspired to Serve

As youth, both Obamas were inspired by serving their local community. Learn how you can help, too.