What's George W. Bush up to in Africa?

President George W. Bush in Livingstone, Zambia helping to renovate a cervical cancer clinic as part of the Bush Institute's Global Health Initiative. June 29, 2013. Paul Morse for the George W. Bush Presidential Center

This doesn't happen every day: A president and a former president find themselves in Africa - and Tanzania - at the same time for completely different reasons.

President Obama is taking a seven-day trip to the continent, with Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania on the itinerary.

Former President George W. Bush, working with his eponymous institute, visited Zambia over the weekend and will attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the U.S. embassy in Tanzania with Mr. Obama on Tuesday.

Mr. Bush and his wife, Laura, are in Africa promoting their initiative, Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, which focuses on fighting cancer around the world. On Tuesday, the Bushes will host an "African First Ladies Summit" in Tanzania, which first lady Michelle Obama will take part in. The summit, per the Bush Institute, will focus on the role African first ladies "play in promoting women's education, health and economic empowerment."

Mr. Obama's deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said Sunday, "The presence of the Bushes is something that marks I think the bipartisan support for Africa that exists in the United States, and it's a very welcome symbol that they can be there at the same time.

"We think it sends a very positive message that both political parties in the United States share a commitment to this continent."

Over the weekend in Zambia, the Bushes toured a farm funded in part by USAID in Nsongwe and then took part in the renovation of a cervical cancer clinic in Livingstone.

Laura Bush called the farm, which produces enough crops to feed its village and sell the excess for extra income, a ""wonderful example of how women ... can bring money in for their families," according to the Dallas Morning News.

"It's really important, worldwide, that women have a chance to contribute to their economy," she added.

In Livingstone, the Bushes helped with painting the clinic, which opened Monday to offer cervical cancer screenings for the area's women.

Meanwhile, even though the former president is in Africa for volunteer work, politics is never far away.

In an interview with CNN, Mr. Bush said NSA leader Edward Snowden "damaged the country."

"I think he damaged the security of the country," he said.

"I put the program in place to protect the country and one of the certainties is civil liberties were guaranteed."

He added that there "needs to be a balance" between security and privacy and that Mr. Obama has stated "there is a proper balance."

  • Steve Chaggaris

    Steve Chaggaris is CBSNews.com's Executive Editor, Washington.

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