Melania Trump is headed to Africa — take a look back at past first ladies’ trips to the continent

First lady Melania Trump departs this week for her first big solo international trip through several African countries.

The first lady announced last week she planned to work closely with the United States Agency for International Development to focus on efforts similar to her childhood wellness initiative while visiting Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt.

Trump’s spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told CNN that healthcare, education, conservation and tourism were top priorities on the trip’s agenda, and “as with all that the first lady does, the well-being of children.”

Trump previously said she is excited for her first time in Africa “to educate myself on the issues facing children throughout the continent, while also learning about its rich culture and history.”

African countries have been a popular destination for first ladies on goodwill tours that sometimes bring aid or attention to the continent.

Take a look at the last four first ladies’ time in Africa:


Before she was first lady, the late Barbara Bush accompanied Vice President George H.W. Bush on a 1985 relief trip to western Sudan, where she helped feed refugees.

Source: The New York Times


First lady Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea embarked on a two-week trip to sub-Saharan Africa in March 1997.

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Young Ugandan girls welcome first lady Hillary and daughter Chelsea Clinton at the airport in Kampala, Uganda.
source
Reuters

Source: Washington Post


They toured the most notable sights in several countries, including Senegal’s House of Slaves, also known as the “door of no return.”

Sources: Washington Post, Atlas Obscura


The landmark reportedly moved the first lady so much that she told the president to include the stop on his trip the following year.

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President Bill Clinton and the First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton hold hands as they look out on the Atlantic Ocean from the “Door of No Return” on Goree Island off Dakar, a former slave trading center, on April 2, 1998.
source
Reuters

Source: Washington Post


The Clintons met South African President Nelson Mandela in Cape Town. Former President Bill Clinton stayed behind at the White House to recover from knee surgery.

Source: Washington Post


Mandela gave them a personal tour of the Robben Island jail and cell where he served part of his 27-year sentence.

Source: Washington Post


Earlier that day, the first lady touted Africa’s path to democracy to University of Cape Town students, one of whom asked if the US might ever have a female president. “Hope springs eternal,” Clinton replied.

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First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton shares a joke during speeches while on a visit to a housing project near Cape Town.
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Reuters

Source: Washington Post


While in Cape Town, the first lady signed a wall of a housing shelter that was being built, and announced $16 million in US aid would be dedicated to eradicate polio in Africa by 2000.

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First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, accompanied by Patricia Matolengwe, chair of the Homeless People’s Foundation, signs a door while on a visit to a housing project in Guguletu township near Cape Town.
source
Reuters

Source: Washington Post


Talking to 500 students, Clinton said: “We have an old saying in America that idle hands are the Devil’s work. From what I have seen in just a few short days, the Devil will have no help here. South Africa is a country that is too busy to hate.”

Source: Washington Post


She returned to the country twice as secretary of state in 2009 and 2012. Clinton would visit dozens of African countries during her tenure as the US’s top diplomat.

Source: US Department of State


Former first lady Laura Bush journeyed with her twin daughters to South Africa, Tanzania, and Rwanda in 2005.

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First lady Laura Bush poses with participants during a visit to the “Mothers to Mothers-to-Be” Aids project in Cape Town’s Khayelitsha township on July 12, 2005.
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Mike Hutchings/Reuters

Source: The New York Times


One of their stops brought them together with Rwandan children involved in an AIDS project, two years after her husband’s administration established a billion-dollar global AIDS plan.

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Mike Hutchings/Reuters

Source: The New York Times


Bush made five goodwill trips in her husband’s second term. In a February 2008 trip, the president and first lady received honors of distinction from Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the first elected female head of state in Africa.

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Frst lady Laura Bush receives an honor of distinction from Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf at a ceremony in the Executive Residence in Monrovia February 21, 2008.
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Jason Reed/Reuters

Sources: All Africa


Former first Michelle Obama’s emphasis on domestic policy and relatively young children resulted in her having half as many foreign trips as her predecessors, but she visited South Africa and Botswana in 2011.

Sources: Washington Post, The White House


Traveling with her mother, Marian Shields Robinson, and her daughters, Sasha and Malia, Obama promoted youth leadership, education, health, and wellness.

Sources: The Washington Post, The White House


The White House described the trip as a “continuation of Mrs. Obama’s work to engage young people, especially girls and young women, at home and abroad.”

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First lady Michelle Obama paints a mural with youths at Botswana-Baylor Adolescent Center, which offers support to teenagers with HIV.
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Charles Dharapak//Reuters

Source: The White House


Actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto joined Obama to address adolescent girls on the challenges they face in getting an education.

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Youssef Boudlal/Reuters

Source: Reuters


In the first week of October, Melania Trump will embark on her own trip. “This will be my first time traveling to Africa and I am excited to educate myself on the issues facing children throughout the continent, while also learning about its rich culture and history,” the first lady said in the statement.

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First Lady Melania Trump is reportedly planning a solo trip to Africa for this October.
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Chris Wattie/Reuters

Source: Business Insider


Trump’s spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told CNN Trump’s stops in Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, and Egypt will make for a “diplomatic and humanitarian visit, which will include stops focusing on healthcare, education, conservation and tourism.”

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First lady Melania Trump poses with children at a school in Japan on an international trip with her husband.
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Pool/Reuters

Source: CNN


In her statement, Trump said: “We are a global society and I believe it is through open dialogue and the exchanging of ideas that we have a real opportunity to learn from one another.”

Source: Business Insider