Monday,27 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1413, (11 - 17 October 2018)
Monday,27 May, 2019
Issue 1413, (11 - 17 October 2018)

Ahram Weekly

A lady came to Visit

Melania Trump
Melania Trump

She chose to flee the ponderous and superfluous trappings of her capital — “the swamp”, the buzzing and stinging of the urban jungle, for the authentic one.

The first lady of the US (FLOTUS) chose the clear, bright natural vistas, the untainted, refreshing atmosphere of innocence and purity.

She is not the first US lady to visit the “Dark Continent”, but perhaps the most beautiful, most interesting and most genuine.

Composed, reticent and soft spoken, she strikes a reverse portrait to that of her more flamboyant and boisterous husband, the 45th president of the US (POTUS).

Leaving him “home alone” Melania Trump gleefully took off on a solo trip to the far ends of the earth.

Seemingly unimpressed by her own status, she roamed Africa freely, visiting hospitals, handing over 1.4 million books to schools in Malawi, hugging children in Ghana, feeding a baby elephant in Kenya; all part of her “Be Best” humanitarian campaign. 

It was time for the last leg of her trip — her visit to the oldest civilisation, the jewel of the crown, the country of Egypt.

Tall, slender and stately; her long caramel hair flowing in the wind, Melania solemnly paused for a moment to gaze at the clear blue skies and look down on 8,000 years of history, and she smiled. Known for her rather opaque expression, Melania rarely smiles.

The reluctant first lady seemed happy to meet another reluctant first lady, Intissar Al-Sisi, who was the first to greet her at the airport and welcome her to Egypt.  

The two first ladies must have had a lot to talk about. Both were thrust, perhaps unwillingly, under the spotlight as they saw their husbands rise to the highest post in their countries. However, family, children and motherhood was far more precious to both of them.

It is not possible to be in this ancient land and not visit the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx and just like a jubilant tourist FLOTUS had her picture taken by the most ancient monuments, shown all over the world, and she was smiling.

She may well be as mysterious as the Sphinx herself. She is the first US first lady in history whose native tongue is not English and the second first lady who was not born in America. The first was British born Louise Adams, wife of the sixth president, John Quincy Adams (1825-1829).

Born in 1967 in communist Slovenia, a country run by Yugoslavia then, her father Viktor Knavs had to join the communist party and her mother Amalija was a factory pattern-maker, to be afforded an unshared, public- housing, tiny apartment. The view from the one window apartment was limited to the landscapes of smokestacks of factories, but there were no limits to her dreams. 

Fortunately, her mother was a skilled seamstress and kept her two daughters Inez and Melania finely dressed. She started modelling at the age of five. 

The girls participated in the fashion show of the Factory Company, a big deal in the small town of Novo Mesto, Slovenia. Melania’s striking good looks garnered help. She was taken to Belgrade to model and from there to other countries in Europe where she learned several languages, seven in all.

She entered the University of Lublyana to study design and architecture, but a year later New York came calling.  Melania headed for the Big Apple.

Dazzled by her doe-like eyes and distinct looks, she became one of the most wanted models, appearing on magazine covers like Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Vanity Fair, etc.

She started her own label of watches, jewellery and beauty products. She lived an affluent, sweet life, in the capital of the free world.

Destiny was not yet done with her. At a Manhattan fashion party hosted by an Italian businessman in 1988, she caught the eye of another businessman, known as “the Donald”. The twice-divorced playboy took one look at Melania and cried, “Who is that?”

He begged for her phone number but the aloof lady refused. His reputation preceded him and Melania dreamed of a home, children, security and a family. He pursued her for two years. Persistent, stubborn and tough, somehow he reminded her of her father.

How could a poor child from a communist country marry an American billionaire? It was written. They married in 2005; their son Barron was born in 2006. She had the biggest homes, a beloved son, a loving husband and her family came to live by her side. What more could she want?

She got more than she had bargained for.

In January 2017, she became the first lady of the USA. It was not in her plans. Private and reserved, she refused to go to Washington until Barron finished school in New York. Once settled in the White House she added a tasteful touch of refinement and elegance that had not been seen since the days of Jacqueline Kennedy.

A dutiful wife, she is yet fiercely independent, participating only in obligatory duties, preferring to stay a step behind, and develop her own interests.

Impeccably attired at all times, pink is her colour, making it the height of fashion. She also favours the classic black and white.

In her monochromatic look of sandy colours, hat and black tie, with a jacket casually draped on her shoulder, her smouldering eyes twinkle in her picture by the Pyramids — one she will undoubtedly cherish. And so shall we.

“And what is better than wisdom? Woman. And what is better than a good woman? Nothing.”     

Geoffrey Chaucer (c 1343-1400)

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