A hat that the First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump, wore during her visit to Kenya has caused international uproar due to its perceived symbolism.
She was at Nairobi National Park dressed in khaki jodhpur pants tucked into tall, brown leather riding boots, crisp, white tailored shirt and a pith helmet
Quickly, people across the globe slammed her because the hat was similar to the one used by colonial masters in Kenya.
Pith helmets were originally worn by European explorers to cope with warm climates, and soon became a key part of commanding officers’ uniforms.
The controversial wardrobe choice was interpreted to mean that the First Lady was out of touch with African history.
Pauleen Mwalo, from Nairobi, tweeted: “That Pith helmet you have carried was used by colonialists during the dark days. Doesn’t sit well with us Africans. Who advised you?”
Kim Yi Dionne from California tweeted that Melania Trump wearing a pith helmet on her trip to Africa was more than a silly sartorial choice. It was a reflection of her outdated understanding of Africa.
Matt Carotenuto, a historian and coordinator of African Studies at St. Lawrence University, commented that there was no need to wear a helmet on the type of safari she was taking.
“She was comfortably stowed in the back seat of a Toyota Land Cruiser; however, the helmet is largely used as more of a sun hat,” he added.
This was Melania’s first solo trip to Africa. She toured Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, and Egypt.
In June 2018, the First Lady wore a jacket scribbled “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U? ” at the back during a visit to immigrant children who had been separated from their families and detained following an order by the US President Donald Trump.
The jacket also caused debates that provoked the American president to explain that she was sending the message to “Fake News Media” and not the detained kids.