Monday, May 28, 2018

Hillary Rodham Clinton's Africa trip: Bees, snow, braving an Ebola outbreak and dancing

COTONOU, Benin — On an epic journey through Africa, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton braved an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Uganda, escaped a swarm of angry bees in Malawi and witnessed a rare snow in South Africa. She even shimmied on a dance floor, gaining the nickname "Secretary of Shake."

As she wrapped up her nine-nation African tour Friday in Benin, Clinton shattered her own travel record, logging 865,000 miles and stops in 108 countries — 10 more countries than her nearest competitor, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Circling from Senegal around the Cape of Good Hope to Kenya and back to Benin, in western Africa, she also engineered an oil deal between fractious Sudan and South Sudan, read the riot act to feuding politicians in Kenya, visited freedom icon Nelson Mandela and got Nigeria's leaders to step up their efforts against terrorism.

On Tuesday in Pretoria, as South Africans reveled in the unusual winter snowfall — its first since 1968 — Clinton hosts dubbed her "Nimkita," or "the one who brought the snow," at a gala dinner that would provide perhaps the most-viewed television footage of the trip.

" 'Nimkita' will be a name that I will proudly bear," Clinton told the crowd before the evening entertainment, South African jazz and pop singer Judith Sephuma, cajoled the clearly delighted former first lady to cut a rug with her and other guests at the Presidential Guest House.

Video of the secretary, in a shimmering blue jacket, dancing amid a cluster of dignitaries with decidedly mixed dancing skills, quickly went viral on the Web, drawing hundreds of thousands of online views around the world.

Clinton — once nicknamed "secretary of quake" by her traveling press corps for an uncanny knack of being in countries when temblors or other natural disasters hit (at least four times and counting now) — had a new nickname.

In addition to setting a new record for countries visited by a secretary of state, Clinton also notched several personal bests on the 12-day jaunt. By the time she finally ends the trip today in Istanbul, Turkey, she will have visited 10 countries, the most on any overseas tour, and made 13 stops, twice traveling among three nations on a single day.

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