U.S. first lady Melania Trump has arrived in Ghana as part of a tour of Africa — her first major solo international trip since her husband became president.
The White House says her trip — that will also take her to Malawi, Kenya and Egypt— will “focus on maternal and newborn care in hospitals, education for children, the deep culture and history woven into each African country, and how the United States is supporting each country on its journey to self-reliance.”
Child welfare has been the focus of Trump’s “Be Best” campaign launched earlier this year.
Her five-day trip could be complicated by the actions and words of her husband, who has referred to Africa in vulgar terms.
Judd Devermont, the Africa program director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Melania Trump has “some heavy lifting to do on this trip and it’s a little bit unfair because that’s not what a first lady’s trip should be about.”
Joshua Meservey, a senior Africa policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, however, believes President Trump’s behavior will not affect the first lady’s Africa visit.
“I think the U.S.-Africa relationship is much bigger than the president’s comments, and it’s been going on for decades and decades.” Meservey added, “Frankly, I suspect the vast majority of average Africans have not heard of any of those dust-ups. It’s very much an elite preoccupation.”
Melania Trump is following in the footsteps of other first ladies who have visited the African continent. Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama traveled to the continent multiple times.
Their son, Barron, will not be on the trip and will remain focused on his studies and soccer, per the first lady’s spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham.