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Analysis: Meghan arrived in Nigeria as a duchess and left as an African princess

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex embarked on a three-day – officially termed private – visit to Nigeria, but which unfolded with all the pomp and attention normally reserved for royal trips.

On the first day, they were greeted with a warm welcome, complete with a red carpet and cultural dancers, after arriving in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, where they kicked off a multi-day mental health summit at Lightway Academy.

There, they also launched a partnership between their Archewell Foundation and the GEANCO Foundation to provide school supplies and menstrual products to students.

The couple had been invited to the West African nation by the country's highest military officer, Christopher Musa, Nigeria's Chief of Defense Staff. After meeting with him at the Nigerian Defense Headquarters, Meghan signed a guest book where she thanked the staff for “welcoming me home”.

Despite the private nature of the visit, the couple's itinerary resembled previous official tours they undertook before stepping down as senior royals in 2020.

They were warmly welcomed everywhere they visited, and Nigerians demonstrated their famous hospitality. The couple were showered with gifts, including a touching portrait of a young Harry with his mother, Princess Diana.

For both Nigeria and Meghan and Harry, the visit had significant weight.

It was an opportunity for Nigeria to demonstrate its ability to host such high-profile guests and dispel any doubts raised by skeptics, especially considering the country's position in the eyes of the UK Foreign Office as one of the most dangerous countries to visit in the world.

Nigeria faces security problems with a terrorist insurgency in the northeast and northwest. However, it is a huge country (bigger than the state of Texas) and the other areas visited by the royal couple in recent days are relatively safe.

However, for Harry and Meghan, it marked their first major trip to Africa since stepping back from their official royal duties.

It was an opportunity for them to engage in an offensive of both hearts and minds, which they carried out with aplomb.

Meghan, in particular, agreed to explore her Nigerian ancestry after discovering through a genealogical test several years ago that she is 43% Nigerian.

On Saturday, she co-hosted a women's leadership event with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organization, for about 50 prominent women from across Nigerian society, politics, business, media and culture.

During a roundtable discussion, moderated by Nigerian media mogul Mo Abudu, the duchess spoke passionately about how she discovered her Nigerian roots and their importance to her own identity.

She described Nigeria as “my country” and added that “part of being African-American is not knowing much about your lineage or background, or where you specifically come from. And it was exciting (…) to discover more and understand what this really means.”

This is where Meghan's natural ability to connect really shined. She chatted effortlessly with attendees, posed for selfies, and engaged in in-depth conversations.

At another event this Sunday at the prestigious Delborough Hotel in Lagos, where the powerful people of Nigerian society gathered to welcome the couple, she appeared visibly moved as three important traditional rulers honored her with royal titles.

The Obi of Onitsha, His Majesty Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Ugochukwu Achebe christened Meghan “Ada Mazi”, which means “the daughter of the Igbo ancestral palace”.

Furthermore, the Oluwo of Iwoland in southwestern Nigeria, Oba Abdulrasheed Adewale Akanbi christened her with the Yoruba name “Adetokunbo”, which means “royalty from across the seas”.

During her three-day visit, her commitments were centered around her main passions: sports rehabilitation, mental health and women's empowerment.

For Harry's part, the Duke demonstrated his compassion and connection to his late mother, Princess Diana, while visiting injured soldiers at a military hospital in Kaduna, 150 miles from Abuja.

His first stop was to visit the governor of Kaduna State, Senator Uba Sani, where he was again welcomed by a group of dancers and a red carpet. Governor Sani sat across from him and praised Harry as a “symbol of courage and” commended his service to the country.

Sani added: “Please greet the Duchess of Sussex, Princess Meghan.”

Harry toured six pavilions and met young people recovering from their injuries. Many had been shot, ambushed by Boko Haram or lost limbs to explosions. A moment captured by a photographer showing Harry holding a wounded soldier lying in a hospital bed during the visit resonated deeply and went viral on social media.

Corporal Yusef, 23, who was shot in the knee, spoke to the Duke, who asked him about his rehabilitation. “Are you going to try out for the Invictus Games team? Are you preparing for this? (…) See you there”, said Harry.

Your visit also extended to cultural experiences, such as witnessing a vibrant dance show and a polo game at the historic Lagos Polo Club.

Polo has a special meaning for Harry and the event provided a platform to showcase his long-standing commitment to the sport and his charitable efforts.

Amid the festivities, the couple expressed their gratitude for Nigeria's warm welcome. As they said goodbye to Nigeria, Meghan declared: “I can’t wait to go back!”

Source: CNN Brasil

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