WASHINGTON — Michelle Obama is fond of saying there's no magic to her being first lady.
She didn't come from a wealthy or well-connected family. She came from the South Side of Chicago and is a descendant of slaves. But she says it's a passion for an education that she and President Barack Obama shared and a willingness to work hard that helped them become successful.
It's a message that young leaders in Africa soon will hear when Michelle Obama makes her second solo trip abroad as first lady, visiting South Africa and Botswana this week.
"In so many ways, I see myself in you all. And I want you to see yourselves in me," she recently told Washington high school students.
The weeklong visit, beginning with the first lady's arrival Monday in Johannesburg, is intended to improve relations between the United States and Africa, and promote youth engagement, education, health and wellness. In the centerpiece speech of the trip, she will appear Wednesday before a U.S.-sponsored forum of young women leaders from sub-Saharan Africa.
She will be joined by her daughters, Malia and Sasha, as well as her mother, Marian Robinson, and a niece and nephew, Leslie and Avery Robinson. Her family will join her on most outings.
The White House said she is allowed to bring guests with her on the plane because she's on official U.S. business, as the president is allowed on his official trips. All other costs regarding her family are to be paid for privately.
A meeting between America's first black first lady and former South African President Nelson Mandela, 92, is hoped for but remained in doubt, given his fragile health. Mandela had an acute respiratory infection in late January that led to a two-day hospital stay. He retired from public life after leaving office in 1999.