US First Lady Melania Trump toured a primary school in Malawi on Thursday on the second leg of her solo tour of Africa as her husband poured praise on her work from back home.
A small handful of protesters held signs along roads in the capital Lilongwe, with one criticising President Trump’s reported use of offensive language to describe some African countries earlier this year.
Melania Trump, who is in Africa to promote her children’s welfare programme, described her visit to the Chipala primary school as “an amazing experience”.
“Meeting those children and understanding their different way of life is why I wanted to travel here,” she said in a short speech afterwards at the US embassy.
“I also wanted to be sure to personally thank each of you for the work that you do here at the embassy in Malawi,” she added.
Her husband tweeted: “Our country’s great First Lady, Melania, is doing really well in Africa. The people love her, and she loves them! It is a beautiful thing to see.”
Melania Trump’s visit, which started in Ghana and will continue on to Kenya and Egypt, has so far attracted varied interest levels in Africa with few crowds lining streets to see her.
“I am very proud to see the first lady,” high school student Sharon Sibo told AFP after being among a group of welcoming pupils at the airport.
“It was very exciting. I thought I wasn’t going to have a chance to see her.”
At the primary school, the first lady watched dozens of pupils sitting on the ground in the sun as a teacher taught on a blackboard on the side of a building.
Melania Trump’s visit to Africa is seen by some as an effort to mend fences after her husband’s reported comment that the continent contained “shithole” countries.
“She’s shining a light on some of the great things the US is doing in Malawi and Africa. I know she’s moved by what the United States is doing in Malawi,” US Ambassador Virginia Palmer told reporters.
Melania Trump met with Malawian First Lady Gertrude Maseko at the state house for tea before watching three traditional dance performances.
The event was to “highlight friendly US-Malawi relations” and the pair’s “shared interest in helping children and, in particular, helping girls in school”, according to the White House.
On Wednesday, she visited a former slave trading fort in Ghana after arriving in Africa from Washington on Tuesday.
The first lady later left Malawi for Kenya.