Melania Trump visits Africa; her husband’s emissary?

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First lady Melania Trump with schoolchildren in Ghana. White House photos by Andrea Hanks

First lady Melania Trump with schoolchildren in Ghana. White House photos by Andrea Hanks

By Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko, Ph.D.

Paradoxically, that well-publicized visit to Africa should have been made by the 45th president of the United States. Instead, it was performed by his wife, Melania Trump.

History tells us how a number of American presidents made official visits to African nations. During his presidency, Barack Obama made official visits to Ghana, Kenya, and Senegal. Before him, George W. Bush visited Botswana, Rwanda, and Uganda.

The current U.S. president has never made any such visits to the region as his predecessors had, but may be too early to say. He could be planning something in the course of his term.

Melania Trump went on a four-country tour, her first solo international trip as first lady. It was reported that she planned the trip herself, and that she is “following in the footsteps of other first ladies” who undertook similar trips.

Yet, it is inevitable that Melania could have brought along a certain amount of her husband’s baggage, as news analysts have indicated: “Such baggage in the form of both ugly remarks and unclear policy.”

Her first visit was a tour of a hospital in Accra, Ghana’s capital, where she met mothers and newborns. She made brief stops in Malawi, Kenya and Egypt. The trip was described as “low-profile,” and that her visits were said to be “attracting little attention from locals.”

“People don’t know Melania Trump,” was the initial comment carried by news reports.

Touring the Giza pyramids in Egypt.

Touring the Giza pyramids in Egypt.

Further analyses came from reports that decried President Trump’s past remarks in reference to what was widely known: How “disinterested” he was on any concern touching on the vast majority of African countries and issues. That same “disinterest” has zeroed in on the delay of appointments of key diplomats dealing with Africa.

Some statements attributed to Trump have been dubbed as “closer to disdain.” What has indeed traveled far and wide is how Trump repeatedly spoke of Barack Obama being “born in Kenya, even long after that theory was debunked.”

Shortly after he assumed the presidency, Trump did not hesitate to name a number of African nations, along with Haiti and El Salvador, as “shithole countries” and therefore, the U.S. shouldn’t “want immigrants from them.”

At a NATO meeting in Brussels, Trump tweeted the word “Africa,” as Fox News aired a “sensational segment” about the supposed oppression of white farmers in South Africa.

Actually, the Trump’s Africa policy has hardly emerged. It has been noted further by political analysts that Trump’s actual Africa policy evidently is just “emerging,” and rather than “making his own journey” to prove he needs to cement his legacy there, he decided to send Melania Trump instead.

© The FilAm 2018



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