Mrs. Obama – Africans madly LOVE you

Hey girl. I bet you had fun coming to this dark continent of ours,Africa that is, as that is how some Americans call it. It was good that you brought the two girls, Malia and Sasha, and their grandmother, Marian Robinson. Everyone was excited with your visiting us down south.

And did I tell you that people adore you? In fact we love you so much. Whether I am wrong or not, I think both us men and women love you. I mean what kind of man would not love and admire a smart, beautiful, classic and sassy woman like your? You are one woman with a taste for fashion. Or maybe that has something to do with your knowing what to wear, how to wear it and with what to match?

People, including men that is, were even wondering what to wear. I mean, can you imagine a man thinkin’ somethin’ like that, girl? That’s South African man for you. Sounds quite feminine, doesn’t it?

During that trip down south you had the opportunity to meet former President Nelson Mandela, Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu and even had a message for not only the Soweto people but for us South Africans too. But it was the meeting Mandela part that I suspect you had fun doing. This of course is not to say meeting Tutu or the people of Soweto was not fun. I just think Mandela is a nice chap to be around, especially in the stage that he is in. That is one stage where old people are fun to be around and you get to laugh the whole day being around them. So it must have been fun.

Mail & Guardian columnist, Nikiwe Bikitsha is one of the women who adores you. At the time when you were in South African, she said that she was “suffering from a serious bout of Michelle Obama envy”.

Of course, claimed Bikitsha, this had nothing to do with your being the United States’ first African-American first lady, not your “stylish wardrobe”, not your “own professional accomplishments” except your “being Mrs Obama” and that it definitely had nothing to do with your “seriously sexy buff arms”.

She, however, admitted that although these are tremendous qualities and that they speak to the outstanding nature of this “formidable woman” [read you], but they are not the reasons why she enveys you.

Instead, it were two photographs of yours that made her adore you even more. The one photo is from the July 4 Independence Day celebrations where you were surrounded by your “gorgeous family” while the second one was taken during your family’s “first official visit to sub-Saharan Africa in Ghana” over a week ago, she said.

Now, girl, you believe me when I say South Africans love you so much? If you don’t, then do because I am telling the truth.

Bikitsha said you are “not afraid to say that parenting is hard and that (you) too battled to shed the post-baby weight”. “She does all this with a broad smile on her face and a seemingly warm and witty nature”. She went further to say how much you embody the “ideal womanhood that we (women like her) are all chasing — success and stability in work, life and, most importantly, love, with an exterior that has all the trimmings of a glamorous finish”.

Bikitsha said you don’t “pretend that it’s effortless”, and also mentioned that you worked out with the same personal trainer for 10 years and wake up at 4.30am to keep that toned muscular body. Now that is love from one phenomenal woman to another, I tell you. And to show how much people love you – and I suspect that has something to do with the point Bikitsha say it wasn’t: that you are the US’s first African-American first lady – some have even went to the extent of drafting a How to Dance Like Michelle Obama. See that?

Just last week Friday, Mail & Guardian newspaper’s Tanya Pampalone wrote a beautiful piece about your trip to South Africa while her colleague, Verashni Pillay, spoke of her “biggest moments” when she listened “humbly” to someone from the country’s rural KwaZulu-Natal related the challenges of working with people living with HIV/Aids with no access to decent food and how an Ethiopian women and her friends had started a bead-making business that was empowering hundreds of women”. These stories – never carried by our media before – were so moving that Pillay “desperately” wanted to be friends with every single one of them”. This, by the way, happened during your trip to this beautiful country of ours and just so you know, girl, Pillay was one of the 75 young women chosen to engage with you on your Southern African tour as per arrangement.

You are loved by us men even. This is because Tinyiko Maluleke admitted in his article about your trip to the country that he “preferred the fact that she and not her husband had come to my country”. Maluleke said he “didn’t mind that the president of my own country was nowhere to be seen”. And I hope you did not leave your cellphone number or even your direct White House number with him because that would mean there would then be problems at The Obamas. Won’t there? I mean, surely, Barack must be jealous. Everyman would be jealous with a wife like you. I would be. Terribly.

And from what Maluleke wrote about you, it was after listening to you that he realised and came to know that you are “an awesome speaker, an inspiring personality and a phenomenal woman”. Amen brother!

The other part of your trip to South African that I think was not only important but that it must have been great too was when you reportedly met with your fellow sister and a successful African-America who was also visiting the country and honoured with a Doctoral Degree by the University of Free State, Oprah Winfrey. The meeting with Winfrey, confirmed by Kristina Schake, apparently happened over the weekend when the two of you met at your hotel in Johannesburg. You even “ate together”, so it was reported.

But overall, I think your South African experience was quite exciting from what I could tell. And off you went to the neighbouring countryBotswanawhere it is for this reason that I actually wrote this open letter to you.

According to your trip schedules provided by the White House, it was last week Friday when you left and kissed South African goodbye and left for Botswana. You were expected to visit Botswana Baylor Children’s Clinic Center of Excellence’s Teen Club that is assembled to teach leadership among teens and encourage young people to teach others HIV/AIDS education. There, so read your trip schedule according to the White House, you were on Friday expected to join Teen Club members in a service project for the plannedBotswanaBaylorAdolescentCenter. And it would only be on Saturday that you would thank the U.S. Embassy employees and their families after which you would then hit the safari with your family, except with you hubby.

Oh, why did you leave your man behind? Aren’t you afraid you might find him having been taken by those freaky African-American women?

From what I read it looked like you had fun with your two girls and everyone that was present and accompanying you to the Safari. Your trip had apparently “displayed (your) version of soft diplomacy”. You apparently “appeared at 20 events and made stops at a few big tourist attractions”. Is that true, girl? Well, now that is traveling indeed!

I think some of the US media people are jealous because they claimed you had “styled” yourself as a “global mom in chief” because you were “offering hugs to poor children in Johannesburg’s sprawling Zandspruit Township; as a drop-in mentor to high-schoolers from disadvantaged communities in Cape Town; and as a playful children’s health advocate doing flat-as-a-board push-ups with former archbishop Desmond Tutu”. I mean, is there anything wrong with that? “The hug is (your) diplomatic tool of choice”, so claimed The Washington Post newspaper last week Sunday.

Okay, enough said about your trip.

Let me finally get to why I wrote this open letter to you in the first place. I am not sure you have addressed this issue withBotswanaPresident or any of his officials. If you did, ignore this last part of my letter. But if you did not, they you better listen to me girl.

As you left Botswana on Sunday I prayed and hoped that you have spoken to theBotswanagovernment officials about their treatment of the Basarwa people.

This is not to say you should interfering with internal matters of that country as it is a sovereign state, but that I think this is one particular issue that I expected you to have raised with that government because on several occasions the government had gone to the Courts to deny the Basarwa people some of their human rights like water and housing. Instead the government wanted to chase these people away from the land that they would prefer to live in irrespective of how primitive that may seem to some of us and to theBotswanagovernment. This is how and where they want to live and all they want is water and other services like health care center.

Please help them.


First appeared at I Like What I Write on 30 June 2011.


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