SHOTLIST:

SOURCE: POOL - AP CLIENTS ONLY

Centurion, South Africa - 28 June 2013

1. Wide of Air Force One, zooms in to first family walking down steps

2. Medium shot of President Obama shaking hands

3. Barack and Michelle Obama walking with dignitary

4. Barack and Michelle Obama walk toward helicopter, get inside

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STORYLINE:

Inspired by Nelson Mandela's struggles in South Africa, a young Barack Obama joined campus protests in the U.S. against the racist rule that kept Mandela locked away in prison for nearly three decades.

Now a historic, barrier-breaking figure himself, President Obama arrived in South Africa Friday to find a country drastically transformed by Mandela's influence - and grappling with the beloved 94-year-old's mortality.

It was unclear whether Mandela's deteriorating health would allow Obama to make a hospital visit. The former South African leader is battling a recurring lung infection and is said to be in critical condition at a hospital in the South African capital of Pretoria.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One as he made his way to Johannesburg, Obama said he would gauge the situation after he arrived.

"I don't need a photo-op," he said. "And the last thing I want to do is to be in any way obtrusive at a time when the family is concerned about Nelson Mandela's condition."

Obama's visit to South Africa is seen as something of a tribute to the man who helped inspire his own political activism. The president will pay homage to Mandela at Robben Island, the prison where he spent 18 of his 27 years in prison. And with South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress, facing questions about its effectiveness, Obama will urge the government and the South African people to live up to the democratic example set by their first black president.

Obama and Mandela have met just once, a hastily arranged meeting in a Washington hotel room in 2005 when Obama was a U.S. senator. A photo of the meeting hangs in Obama's personal office at the White House, showing a smiling Mandela sitting on a chair, his legs outstretched, as the young senator reaches down to shake his hand. A copy of the photo also hangs in Mandela's office in Johannesburg.