Melania Trump is following through on her promise to make Africa her first solo international destination as the first lady. She arrived on Tuesday in Accra, Ghana where she was formally greeted at the airport by Ghana’s first lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo. Her first trip ever to the continent includes visits to three other African nations including Kenya, Egypt and Malawi.
Mrs. Trump’s visit has not seen the headlines some had hoped for as her husband continues his fight with the Senate Judiciary Committee to get his U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh appointed. He is also on a multi-city MAGA tour to rally voters for the November mid-term elections to keep Democrats from winning back the Senate.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Trump will be spending time with school children, visiting hospitals and getting a taste of the people of Africa’s gracious hospitality, along with experiencing each country’s rich history and culture. She is also promoting her Be Best campaign that focuses on children and healthy living, cyberbullying and drug abuse.
What may be lost on this trip is the face of the New Africa. Despite the misguided attitude by the Trump Administration on Africa reflected in his offensive remark, made reportedly while hosting Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari last April, during which he called Africa and Haiti “s—hole” countries, Africa is experiencing a renaissance.
To be clear, Africa is not a country. It is a continent with 54 sovereign nations that collectively are demonstrating a fast-growing economic surge that appears strong, long-lasting and is surpassing many other developing countries. New leadership among many African countries has vowed to end corruption and to begin investing in their most precious commodity — their youth. Substantial investment and trade relationships have been built outside of the U.S. with other nations including China which continues to invest billions of dollars into Africa’s infrastructure. Just this week, global hotel chain Marriott International announced its “extensive expansion” plan for seven new hotels in Africa and to grow to over 200 hotels with more than 37,000 rooms by 2022. The company is currently present in 20 African countries.
Africans across the diaspora, including African Americans in the U.S. in search of their roots, heed the invitation to “Come Home;” they’re discovering affordable, safe and new travel options offered by airlines that include Ethiopian Airways and Kenya Airlines.
Mrs. Trump’s visit couldn’t be timelier although some Africans are still trying to understand the reason for her visit. She is welcome, they say but not her husband. But as Ghanaian journalist Elizabeth Ohene wrote in the Daily Graphic Online: “I wish I had had input in drawing up the program for this visit. I would have put Mrs. Trump in touch with my dressmaker to make her a kente jacket to rival her famous “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” jacket.