“She got to know firsthand the people of Africa and they loved and respected her everywhere she went,” he continued. “Melania told me about her trip in great detail and I’m so proud of the job she’s doing on behalf of children everywhere. She works so hard and does it all out of love.”
Every modern first lady has traveled to Africa. Laura Bush made promoting health on the continent a major part of her tenure, particularly in her husband’s second term, when she made seven trips to countries there.
Michelle Obama visited twice without her husband, in 2011 to South Africa and Botswana, and in 2016 to Morocco and Liberia, bringing her daughters along for both trips. As first lady, Hillary Clinton also made two trips accompanied by her teenage daughter with stops in Senegal, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Uganda, Eritrea, Morocco and Tunisia.
Unlike her predecessors, Melania Trump’s relatively low-key visit was complicated by her husband’s harsh words about the continent. During a meeting with lawmakers in January, President Trump referred to African nations as “shithole countries,” though he later denied using such language. And he had previously questioned why Nigerians in the United States on visas would ever want to return to their “huts.”