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Melania Trump’s white hat in Africa lands her in ‘colonial’ controversy

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Nairobi, Oct 6: US First Lady Melania Trump has found herself in the middle of yet another controversy related to her attire. The latest one might not be over a stiletto or an 'audacious' jacket, but her picking a white pith helmet during a safari in Kenya on Friday (October 6) was found to be offensive by some Africans, especially those who study the history of the continent.

Melania Trump

The white helmet is a common symbol of colonial rule. European militaries used the helmet in their colonies across Africa, Newsweek cited Gentleman's Gazette as saying.

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Kim Yi Dionne, a political science professor at the University of California, who specialises in African politics, told New York Times that Melania's understanding of Africa did not keep pace with time.

"Her attire is a signal of her understanding of what Africa is in 2018. It's tired and it's old and it's inaccurate," Dionne was quoted as saying.

Matt Carotenuto, a historian who coordinates St Lawrence University's African Studies programme, told CNN that Melania's choice of the hat was like her showing up to "an Alabama cotton farm in a confederate uniform."

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The US first lady is on a five-day tour of Africa - her first overseas trip without husband President Donald Trump - and she was seen engaging in a number of activities, from feeding formula to elephant calves to promoting her "Be Best" initiative for kids' well-being. In Ghana, she said she was "very honoured" to visit a palace named after former American president Barack Obama and added that it was "very emotional" to walk around a former slave-trading post, Newsweek reported.

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