Melania Trump, the wife of US President Donald Trump will arrive in Accra, Ghana, today as part of her maiden African trip as first lady.
The one-week trip, which begins today, will take her to a part of the world that has a tense relationship with her husband’s administration.
“Whether it is education, drug addiction, hunger, online safety or bullying, poverty or disease, it is too often children who are hit first, and hardest, across the globe,” Trump said at a reception at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, where she announced her travel plans. “Each of us hails from a country with its own unique challenges, but I know in my heart we are united by our commitment to raising the next generation to be happy, healthy and morally responsible adults.”
The audience included the first ladies of several of the countries she will visit, along with Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Pence, and Susan Pompeo, the wife of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Trump said she chose those four countries because they “have worked alongside USAID and our partners to make great progress in overcoming some of their biggest challenges.”
The continent is a place that every modern first lady has visited. Laura Bush made programs promoting health in Africa a major part of her tenure, particularly in her husband’s second term, when she made seven trips to countries there.
Michelle Obama visited twice without her husband, in 2011 to South Africa and Botswana, and in 2016 to Morocco and Liberia, bringing her daughters along for both trips. As first lady Hillary Clinton also made two trips accompanied by her teenage daughter with stops in Senegal, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Uganda, Eritrea, Morocco and Tunisia.
But Trump’s visit is more fraught than those of her predecessors. During a meeting with lawmakers in January, President Trump referred to Haiti and some African nations as “shithole countries” during a discussion of a proposed bipartisan immigration deal, according to officials who were there. He later denied using such language. Reports had previously circulated that he had questioned why Nigerians in the United States on visas would ever want to return to their “huts.”
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