LILONGWE--At around 10.15hrs her white jet - with a blue underbelly - touches the Malawi soil. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton looks charmed as she is serenaded by the colourful Malawi National Dance Troupe.
"This is wonderful," she tells Vice-President Khumbo Hastings Kachali who leads the welcoming party at Kamuzu International Airport.
Looking resplendent in all blue, Clinton - the highest ranking US official to visit Malawi since the re-introduction of multiparty democracy in 1994 - is whisked to meet Pres Joyce Banda who is waiting for her at her official New State House. Security is tight here; everybody is frisked, camera gear is thoroughly checked, laptop computers checked while anybody without a specially made "Secretary of State Visit" is turned away.
Joyce Banda, in her traditional gear, comes out of her living quarters to welcome the important guest.
"Welcome to Malawi!" shouts the President as Secretary Clinton alights from her limo.
"Malawi is wonderful!" the visitor shouts back.
Then the two women embrace and soon disappear into the womb of the famed 100-bed mansion former president Bakili Muluzi famously described as "opulence amidst poverty" when he refused to live here.
The two women, who would later describe themselves as 'life-long gender rights activists', are away for about three-quarters of an hour. In the interim officials and journalists mingle to exchange idle banter.
"That's the nicest welcome so far," AP photographer Jacquelyn Martin, who is travelling with the US top diplomat around Africa, tells me recalling the National Dance Troupe gig at the airport. And she has been with Clinton to Uganda, South Sudan and Kenya already! Next stop: South Africa.
Then the two powerful women in the room emerge.
"I just wanna say, Madam President, how honoured and privileged I am to be here in Malawi and how strongly United States supports you and your government and your efforts on behalf of the people of this absolutely wonderful country," says Clinton.
Pres Banda, too, expresses the joy of hosting Clinton.
"It's a pleasure to have you in Malawi because for a long time we've both been women and children's (rights) activists, I was waiting for the day that we would meet," she says. "And indeed today in an official capacity, I'm proud."
To which the guest responds: "I'm very proud indeed!"
Thus begins Hillary Clinton's Malawi tour. Off she goes to see Camp Glow, an off-school camp for girls run by US Peace Corps, and then Feed the Future, an Obama administration's Global Hunger and Food Security initiative.
---©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment.