Melania Trump: US first lady arrives in Ghana for solo Africa trip

US First Lady Melania Trump has arrived in Ghana’s capital, Accra, in a solo trip that will see her visit four African countries.

The tour will focus on promoting health care and education programmes run by US foreign aid organisation USAid.

She will also visit Kenya, Malawi and Egypt to foster diplomatic relations.

In February, a row broke out after President Donald Trump allegedly used the word “shithole” to describe African nations.

Mrs Trump’s week-long trip to the continent is seen as helping to heal some of the divisions.

She will also promote her Be Best initiative which aims to tackle issues such as cyberbullying and boost healthy living. She tweeted that the campaign was going “international”.

Ahead of her trip Mrs Trump said that she was looking forward to visiting

“four beautiful and very different countries in Africa”.

“She is interested in Africa because she has never been before and knows that each country will have its own unique history and culture.”

Stephanie Grisham, her communications director, said.

What will she be doing?

When she announced her trip, Mrs Trump said she was looking forward to working with Ghana’s First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo to promote quality healthcare for mothers and newborns and nutrition in young children.

Children carry flags as they greet U.S. first lady Melania Trump on arrival in Accra
Along with Ghana’s first lady, Mrs Trump was also welcomed by a group of schoolchildren. Image copyright: Reuters.

She said that she was looking forward to better understand how the US can continue working together with Malawi to support a USAid program that is focussed on children’s education.

Mrs Trump also highlighted the work the US was doing in Kenya to support early-childhood education, wildlife conservation, and HIV prevention.

“My final stop, which is Egypt, will focus on the country’s tourism and conservation projects, but I know that through USAid, we have worked with the people of Egypt to promote an environment in which all groups of society – including women and religious minorities – can lead productive and healthy lives,” she said.

How will she be received?

The US first lady was welcomed by traditional drummers and dancers at the Kotoka International Airport in the capital, Accra.

However, according to Ghanaian journalist Elizabeth Ohene, there is not an atmosphere of Trump-mania in Ghana.

“I think Melania is a great woman. Her story is particularly inspiring,”

one resident of Accra told the BBC.

But another compared her unfavourably to former First Lady Michelle Obama who was warmly received with her husband on a trip in 2009.

Residents of Ghana, Kenya and Egypt have mixed feelings about the trip.

What does President Trump think of Africa?

Ahead of his wife’s trip to Africa President Trump told reporters:

“We both love Africa. Africa is so beautiful. The most beautiful part of the world, in many ways.”

This view is at odds with comments he allegedly made in a private discussion in February,

Mr Trump was accused of racism, after he was reported to have used the word “shithole” to refer to African nations when talking about immigration policy.

The African Union asked him to apologise over the comment.

He later told reporters:

“I am not a racist. I’m the least racist person you have ever interviewed.”

Donald Trump
President Trump recently said “Africa is so beautiful. The most beautiful part of the world, in many ways.”

In August the president angered the South African government by falsely claiming that there was large-scale killing of white farmers in South Africa.

The South African government reacted swiftly to refute Mr Trump’s assertion that white South Africans were being targeted.

It is not known if Mr Trump ever visited Africa before he became president or whether he had any business links with Africa.

What is the administration’s Africa policy?

President Trump has not paid much attention to the continent, but has welcomed three African leaders, the presidents of Egypt, Nigeria and Kenya, to the White House.

When Rex Tillerson, Mr Trump’s first secretary of state, visited Africa in March he said the themes of his trip were: counterterrorism, democracy, governance, trade and investment.

Mr Tillerson warned Africa of China’s economic engagement with the continent which he said encouraged dependency, utilised corrupt deals and endangered its natural resources.

He also announced a $533m (£380m) humanitarian African aid plan.

On the counterterrorism front Mr Trump’s administration has escalated the fight against Islamist militants in the Sahel region and in Somalia.

The US has set up a drone base in Niger which is operated by the CIA.

 

First Published 02.10.18: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-45717641

 

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