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As President Obama Travels To South Africa, Deteriorating Health Of Nelson Mandela Overshadows Visit

“President Obama is headed to South Africa [Friday] on the second leg of a one-week trip to the African continent,” NPR’s “The Two-Way” blog reports (Peralta, 6/28). “Obama left the United States on Wednesday for Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania — his second visit to sub-Saharan Africa since taking office,” according to CNN, which adds, “The trip aims to bolster investment opportunities for U.S. businesses, address development issues such as food security and health, and promote democracy” (Karimi, 6/28). “Obama is receiving the embrace you might expect for a long-lost son on his return to his father’s home continent, even as he has yet to leave a lasting policy legacy for Africa on the scale of his two predecessors,” the Associated Press/Washington Post writes, noting “Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush passed innovative Africa initiatives while in the White House and passionately continue their development work in the region in their presidential afterlife.” Obama’s “signature Africa policy thus far has been food security, through less prominent programs designed to address hunger with policy reforms and private investment in agriculture,” the AP writes, noting on Friday “he drew attention to Feed the Future, a public private partnership initiated by his administration that he said has helped seven million small farmers in developing nations” (Corey-Boulet, 6/28).

However, the trip is being “overshadowed by the deteriorating health of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela” in South Africa, CNN notes (6/28). “South Africans awaited fresh word on Friday about the fate of Nelson Mandela as a heady blend of rumor and official reports deepened concerns over his health despite an assurance from [President Jacob Zuma’s] office on Thursday that Mr. Mandela’s condition had stabilized,” the New York Times reports (Walsh/Lyman, 6/28). “Mandela, who spent 27 years behind bars for his struggle under white minority rule and went on to become South Africa’s first black president, became a leading AIDS campaigner after completing his single term in office,” Agence France-Presse writes, noting UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé on Thursday hailed Mandela “for his role in breaking the silence and shame surrounding the deadly disease” (6/27).