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Mrs. Obama speaks at famous Oblate parish
27/06/2011 Northern Province of South Africa

Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Denis HURLEY and many other men and women whose names are famous or not as famous played major roles in the downfall of the apartheid system in the Republic of South Africa. One of the shrines of that struggle is Regina Mundi Parish in the heart of Soweto near Johannesburg. On June 22, 2011, the wife of the current president of the United States, Mrs. Michelle Obama, visited the church and spoke to a large crowd.

In her speech, she made the comparison between the struggle for freedom of oppressed people in South Africa and in the United States. “The story of young people 20 years ago, 50 years ago, who marched until their feet were raw. Who endured beatings and bullets and decades behind bars. Who risked and sacrificed everything they had for the freedom they deserved," she said. “And it is because of them we are able to gather here today. It is because of them that so many of these young women leaders can now pursue their dreams. It is because of them that I stand before you as first lady of the United States of America.”

Mrs. Obama encouraged young people to work against a disease that is plaguing much of the African continent: “You can be the generation that ends HIV/AIDS in our time, the generation that fights not just the disease, but the stigma of the disease,” she said.

Regina Mundi became an important symbol of the anti-apartheid movement especially after June 16, 1976, when protesting students were fired upon by the police. Many were killed. Others ran into Regina Mundi to find sanctuary. The police, however, stormed the church and continued to fire their guns. Many were injured and sacred objects in the church were damaged. One can still see the marks of the bullets in the altar, in the ceiling and a damaged figure of Christ.

The Oblates who often play host to many important visitors are the pastor of the parish, Fr. Vusimuzi Henry MAZIBUKO along with Fathers Benedict MAHLANGU and Lizwelinjani MLOTSHWA.