Michelle Obama & Desmond Tutu Do Push-Ups In Cape Town (PHOTOS)
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Text By DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press
CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Michelle Obama kicked soccer balls Thursday with former Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu and flexed her biceps doing push-ups alongside him as she closed out a goodwill visit to South Africa and prepared to head for neighboring Botswana.
She also visited a museum that documents the forced segregation of a once racially mixed area of this coastal city.
Mrs. Obama and family members traveling with her, including daughters Malia and Sasha, met Tutu, a Nobel Peace laureate and a leader in South Africa's fight for racial equality, at the new Cape Town Stadium where the World Cup soccer tournament was held last year. She also received briefings from several HIV/AIDS prevention organizations, including some that use the discipline of soccer to teach kids about the disease.
In remarks before the soccer drills and calisthenics, the first lady urged dozens of kids to make safe, healthy choices. HIV/AIDS is a serious challenge to South Africa, where between 5 million and 6 million live with the disease in a country of just under 50 million. An estimated 17 percent of adult South Africans are infected.
"It's hard to have an impact if you're not in the best condition possible," she said.
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Her morning visit to the District Six Museum replaced a long-planned ferry ride to Robben Island that was cancelled at the last minute due to high winds that made the Atlantic Ocean waters too treacherous to cross.
Former President Nelson Mandela was jailed on Robben Island for 18 years for his role in the movement to abolish apartheid, South Africa's system of racial separation. Apartheid ended in 1994, when he was elected president several years after once again becoming a free man.
A tour of the closet-sized cell that housed Mandela all those years was expected to be an emotional high point of the trip. Aides said Mrs. Obama was looking forward to seeing it.
Instead, she and her family -- daughters Malia, 12, and Sasha, 10; her mother Marian Robinson; and niece and nephew, Leslie and Avery Robinson, 15 and 19, respectively spent about an hour touring the museum with its director and a former District Six resident.
They also heard stories from Ahmed Kathrada, a former political prisoner and apartheid icon who was jailed with his friend Mandela on Robben Island.
Kathrada was among seven men sentenced on June 12, 1964, with Mandela to life in prison for sabotage and plotting to overthrow the white government. Mandela was already in prison in a separate case but became a defendant in the so-called Rivonia treason trial because of documents linking him to activities there.
The museum memorializes a sector of Cape Town that was established in 1867 as a racially mixed area but was forcibly segregated in 1965. Non-whites were removed to barren outlying areas and their homes in District Six were destroyed.
After the museum tour, Mrs. Obama followed her husband's playbook and took her family to lunch at a restaurant that uses local ingredients. President Barack Obama often dines at local eateries when he travels around the country.
From the restaurant, she went to the University of Cape Town for a session with 50 high school students. Mrs. Obama arranged for the students, who are from disadvantaged backgrounds but have shown academic potential, to spend the day at the university, soaking in the atmosphere. She said they shouldn't see it as a foreign place.
"Getting into a school like this isn't some kind of magical process," the first lady said. "There is no magic dust that helps students succeed. Nowadays, it is really about how hard you are willing to work."
Mrs. Obama arrived in South Africa late Monday for a weeklong visit. President Barack Obama stayed in Washington.
She was scheduled to travel to Botswana on Friday for a day of events, including a courtesy call on President Ian Khama, more focus on HIV/AIDS prevention and a family dinner at a game reserve.
The trip is her second official trip outside the U.S. without the president. The visits also are her first to South Africa and Botswana.
Associated Press writer Donna Bryson in Johannesburg contributed to this report.