Harris finds footing and a jubilant audience, halfway around the world from Washington

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Administration officials have often remarked how foreign trips can provide Harris room to shine that, they feel, the D.C. chattering class misses when talking about and covering her. Harris earned rave reviews for her speech last month at the Munich Security Conference, where she proclaimed Russia had committed crimes against humanity. And her trip to Africa once more demonstrated the general relief she and her staff usually feel the further away they get from the political sniping that trails her at home.

Harris arrived Sunday in Ghana, the first of a three-nation, one-week trip across the continent, to talk about economic security and U.S.-Africa unity. She landed to the sound of drums and dancers wrapped in traditional Kente cloth and headbands.

At subsequent stops, she has been notably less guarded, relaxed and seemingly lighter on her feet. It was noticed by the locals, too.

“I’m so proud and so happy to see her in Africa. It was emotional that she made it here and that Ghana is her first African country. She clearly loves Africa and she loves Ghana,” said a young woman named LaToya, who did not want to give her last name out of fear because of anti-LGBTQ sentiments in the country. She had watched Harris’ speech at Black Star Square, a Ghanaian monument representing the nation’s freedom from colonialism. “Based on her smiles, she clearly enjoyed it here. When you come to a place like this, you can be yourself.”

The official goals of Harris’ trip were to enhance relations on the continent and ensure that China did not get a stronger foothold in the economies there. A senior aide said the vice president, as the first Black woman to occupy that post, wasuniquely positioned to highlight the culture and opportunities, most especially the dynamism of African youth.”

But unlike the diplomatic meetings and security conferences that marked her past travel abroad, the trip to Ghana also featured more direct interactions with the populace. The vice president made several stops during her visit to highlight the nation’s arts, including a woman-owned gallery and a community recording studio.

Ghanaian singer Amaarae met with Harris at Vibrate Space, an artists’ collective. She said the vice president pledged her team would follow up with her and keep using art and culture to demonstrate Ghana as a worthy investment.

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( With inputs from : )

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