U.S. first lady Jill Biden arrived in Namibia on Wednesday, as part of a five-day trip to Africa that will also include a visit to Kenya.
She’s expected to promote the empowerment of Africa’s women and its youth as well as the hunger ravaging the drought-prone Horn of Africa region.
Dancers representing Namibia’s different ethnic groups, some wearing red, white and blue, others dressed in bright pink, greeted her with singing and dancing. The country has not welcomed a high-level U.S. official since 1996. The first lady’s trip is part of a commitment by President Joe Biden to deepen U.S. engagement with the fast-growing region.
She and Monica Geingos, Namibia’s first lady, embraced on the tarmac before Jill Biden greeted U.S. and Namibian diplomatic and government officials. She is accompanied by her granddaughter Naomi Biden.
Her first stop after arriving was a 45-minute drive south of the capital of Windhoek, to lay a wreath at Heroes’ Acre, Namibia’s official war memorial. She will also visit the State House to meet with President Hage Geingob and his wife.
It’s Jill Biden’s sixth time in Africa, but her first visit as first lady. She is following in the footsteps of her recent predecessors, who all made the trip across the Atlantic Ocean in the name of trying to help foster goodwill toward the United States.
During five days split between Namibia, located along the Atlantic coast in southern Africa, and Kenya, in the east, Jill Biden will focus on empowering women and young people, and highlight food insecurity in the Horn of Africa caused by a devastating drought, Russia’s war in Ukraine and other factors.
As she departed Washington on Tuesday, the first lady declared, “We have a lot to accomplish.”
Africa is the fastest-growing and youngest region in the world, according to the White House, which says 1 of every 4 people in the world will be African by 2050.
The White House has withheld specific details of the first lady’s activities in each country, citing security concerns.
Jill Biden previously visited Africa in 2010, 2011, twice in 2014 and once in 2016, all during Joe Biden’s service as U.S. vice president. Two of those trips were with him.
This time, she is travelling to Africa without the president as he wraps up his own trip to Poland to mark Friday’s anniversary of Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine.