President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will travel to South Africa to attend memorial services for former South African President Nelson Mandela, the White House announced Friday.
“President Obama and the First Lady will go to South Africa next week to pay their respects to the memory of Nelson Mandela and to participate in memorial events,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney in a statement.
Mandela, an anti-apartheid leader, died Thursday at the age of 95. He was one of the world’s most respected statesmen and after spending 27 years in prison helped negotiate the end of white minority rule in South Africa, becoming that country’s first black president.
Obama honored Mandela on Thursday in remarks from the White House.
“We've lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings any of us will spend time with on this earth,” said the president. “He no longer belongs to us — he belongs to the ages.”
The president remembered joining in a protest against apartheid South Africa in his youth, an action he said was inspired by Mandela.
“I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set, and so long as I live I will do what I can to learn from him,” Obama said.