A symbol of colonial rule across Africa

Oh look, it’s Melania really not caring again.

Melania Trump has prompted consternation, some anger and much derision by choosing a pith helmet – a symbol of colonial rule across Africa – as headwear for a brief safari in Kenya.

On the penultimate day of her tour of the continent – her first solo trip overseas – the first lady visited an orphanage in Nairobi before heading to a national park near the city.

Dressed in riding pants, boots and a spotless white pith helmet, the former model climbed into an open-air vehicle for the safari, taking photos on her iPhone of zebras, giraffes, impalas, rhinos and hippos.

They’re not making it up.

Melania Trump talks with Park Manager Nelly Palmeris at the Nairobi National Park

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

What the hell is she wearing jodhpurs and riding boots for? Let alone the ridiculous hat.

Pith helmets – so-called because they are made of the material sholapith – were worn by European explorers and imperial administrators in Africa, parts of Asia and the Middle East in the 19th century before being adopted by military officers, rapidly becoming a symbol of status – and oppression.

Soldiers, guides and wildlife specialists replaced the pith helmet long ago with more practical and less controversial headgear, but they are still in ceremonial use in a handful of countries – and by tourists in Africa who have limited experience of local conditions and sensibilities.

“That pith helmet you have carried was used by colonialists during the dark days. Doesn’t sit well with us Africans. Who advised you?” wrote Pauleen Mwalo, of Nairobi, on Twitter.

Stephen Miller?

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