TODAY   |  June 27, 2013

President Obama begins Africa trip in Senegal

The president is beginning his six-day, three-country trip across the continent in Dakar, Senegal, hoping to visit ailing former South African president Nelson Mandela later this week. NBC’s Chuck Todd reports.

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>>> the president is starting his week-long trip in senegal . nbc's white house correspondent chuck todd is traveling with the president and is in senegal . chuck, good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, natalie the president is starting off a six- day trip , three country visit here. the countries are all up and coming democracies. of course south africa a very flourishing democracy. the goal of the president here is twofold. one, to show that america does have interest and wants to help africa. lately china has been investing in this continent and it looks like giving more attention to this continent than the united states . president obama is hoping to erase that perception. here in senegal he is being treated almost as a state visit . he gets honored with a state dinner tonight but also will make symbolic visits to places of importance to particularly african-americans. today he'll go to the home of the so-called door of no return where africans were then shipped off to slavery across the ocean. he'll also visit robin island when he is in south africa , the prison where nelson mandela resided for 18 some years. now, hanging thoefr tr ining over this tri p of course is the health of nelson mandela . the white house is hoping the president gets to visit mr. mandela when he gets to south africa . that depends on the family.