Melania Trump has just got on her first major international solo trip as First Lady of the United States. She arrived Ghana on Tuesday with a big wave, a smile and a baby in her arms, aiming to promote child welfare during a five-day tour of Africa.
The trip is part of Melania Trump’s “Be Best” campaign, focusing on improvements to women’s and children’s health around the world—and will see her touring Malawi, Kenya and Egypt.
But Melania Trump’s solo trip is not out of the ordinary. Hillary Clinton took her daughter to five African states in 1997, George W Bush’s wife Laura made five solo trips in support of her husband’s global health initiatives, and Michelle Obama travelled unaccompanied to South Africa in 2011, and then to the continent’s north in 2016 with her daughters.
Melania Trump’s tour is not in conformance with her husband’s policies, through which funding for foreign charities have faced major cuts since he came to power.
A professor at Rider University in New Jersey who studies American first ladies, in a statement to Quartz, said, “She can show that the United States cares about these things, not just at home but around the world.”
The New York Times noted Mrs Trump spent much of her time expressing her appreciation to her hosts. The report said, “Mrs Trump has done her best to soften the image of an administration known for its sharp elbows, and of a president who outraged many Africans with his disparaging remarks.”
Queen mother of Cape Coast, Nana Amba Eyiaba, told the newspaper that Ghanaians were both excited and anxious about her visit. She said, “There are so many countries in Africa, but she chose to come here. It means there are some expectations from us. She will learn something about our culture and learn at first-hand what Ghana is like.
“I think her ‘Be Best’ project will benefit our children, which in turn will benefit our country.”