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.

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.

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.

Source: Washington Post

While in Cape Town, the first lady signed a wall of a housing shelter that was being built, and announced $US16 million in US aid would be dedicated to eradicate polio in Africa by 2000.

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.

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.

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 honours of distinction from Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the first elected female head of state in Africa.

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

Travelling 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.”

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.

Source: Reuters

In the first week of October, Melania Trump will embark on her own trip. “This will be my first time travelling 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.

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.”

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

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