United States first lady Melania Trump on Wednesday visited one of the “slave castles” on Ghana’s Cape Coast, used as trading outposts for the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Ghana is the first stop on Trump’s week-long trip to four African countries, her first foreign tour as first lady without her husband.
Dressed in an olive jacket, tan pants and chocolate-brown stilettos, Trump started her visit at the Obama Hall of Emintsimadze Palace on the Cape Coast, where she met with the chief of the local Fante ethnic group.
The hall received its name after former president Barack Obama, who visited the castle with his wife Michelle and their two children in 2009, during his first year as head of state.
Back then, Obama compared that experience to visiting the site of a Holocaust concentration camp.
Trump made a customary donation of libations meant to assist the Fante in communicating with their ancestors, including a pink plastic basket with schnapps, wine, other liquors and soft drinks.
The ceremony was attended by numerous local guests dressed in traditional, colourful kente cloths, while the palace was decorated with Ghanaian and American flags as well as yellow and purple sashes, symbolizing royalty and wealth.
Trump then visited the “castle,” one of dozens of commercial forts where slaves used to be imprisoned until they were sent abroad, often to America.
Accompanied by museum director, Kwesi Essel-Blankson, the first lady walked past ancient cannons and cannon balls to view the dungeons where slaves were held in cramped, lightless and airless quarters.
Trump laid a wreath the “Door of No Return” through which tens of thousands of slaves entered the fort.
“It’s very emotional,” Trump said.
“I will never forget the incredible experience and the stories that I heard … The dungeons that I saw … what happened so many years ago, it’s really a tragedy,” she added.
On Tuesday, the day of her arrival in West Africa, Trump visited mothers and their babies at a local hospital and had tea with Ghana’s first lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo.
After Ghana, she will visit Malawi, Kenya and Egypt, although the White House did not disclose details about her itinerary, citing security concerns.
Trump chose to travel to Africa as it had long been on her wish list of places to go, according the White House. Trump said her trip will take her to “four beautiful and very different countries in Africa.”