NAIROBI, Kenya A half a world away from the spectacle of Washington, Melania Trump still managed to create one of her own during a Kenyan safari on Friday, riding out into the grassland wearing a crisp white pith helmet a common symbol of European colonial rule.
It may not have been the most glaring faux pas the hyper-scrutinized Mrs. Trump has ever made. That title probably goes to the “I really don’t care. Do U?” jacket she wore on the way to visit detained migrant children in Texas in June.
But to some especially those who study African history her fashion choice in Kenya was still a big error on the global stage: the sight of a first lady wearing something so closely associated with the exploitation of Africans.
Hours before Washington woke up, critics were pointing out how Mrs. Trump who is here representing a husband widely reported to have disparaged African nations in vulgar terms had fumbled this segment of her visit. Mrs. Trump is in Africa on a four-nation tour, with plans to visit Egypt this weekend after stops in Ghana, Malawi and Kenya.
In other ways, Mrs. Trump has seemed independent. She came here without Mr. Trump and has managed to avoid some of the more uncomfortable situations that previous visitors have faced: President George W. Bush encountered elephants mating when he embarked on a safari in Botswana. (The Kenyan elephants seemed solely interested in their bottles.)
An hour into her safari ride, Mrs. Trump adjusted her outfit and climbed out of a vehicle to visit an ivory burn site, where the material has been destroyed to discourage the ivory trade. She bent down and scooped up some of the burned ivory, rubbing it lightly in her hands, finding herself once again at odds with her husband as the cameras caught her every movement. His administration has moved to lift a ban on some elephant trophy imports.
“It is sad to see this,” the first lady said to her guide, her hands covered in ash.