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Trump and ‘shithole’ countries

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President Donald Trump speaks at the Rotunda of the Utah State Capitol on December 4, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Trump announced the reduction in size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments which were created by Presidents Obama and Clinton. George Frey/Getty Images/AFP


That the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, would describe African and other black countries of the world as ‘shithole’ countries is not an unusual comment from a man universally known as a complete dotard.

Despite its derogatory connotation, Trump’s simple utterance might have passed as another hackneyed racist comment of the typical uneducated, xenophobic tribe of delirious Caucasians ensconced in the homophobic wilderness they call home. But a fitting response to this gassy loose cannon is only necessary because he is the President of the United States and that country needs to be reminded of how pitiable it is to have a president of this character.

This is not the first time Trump’s use of language would advertise his obsession with racism and xenophobia, or his discourteous demeanor and utter irreverence for truth. Either out of political naivete or deliberate mischief, Trump has consistently made remarks that are unbefitting of a president. He has, indeed, undermined the principle of tolerance and equality on which America was founded. He has been known to have associated laziness with blacks, called Mexicans rapists, and has called for a total shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S. In August last year, he refused to condemn the anti-Semitic and racist actions of white supremacists in Charlottesville. His all-too frequent gaffes are so unbecoming that they portray the president of the United States of America as a man bereft of the much touted civilisation his forebears lay claim to. He is neither conversant with history and shamefully so, nor does he understand the social evolution of the world he lives in.

Even though Trump has repeatedly denied making those comments and even attempted to temper their severity by exploiting the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King to make amends, the damage has been done. And the gravity of the damage could be felt from the weight of the criticisms levelled against the U.S. president. From the bold disapproval by Democrats in the U.S. Congress to the extra-ordinary rebuke of Rupert Colville, the United Nations Human Rights spokesman; from Nicholas Burns former U.S. ambassador to NATO and George W. Bush’s under-secretary of state on political affairs, who described Trump’s comment as “cruel, ignorant” and a “blow to U.S. credibility…” to former U.S. ambassador to the UN Samantha Power’s shock at the audacity of African leaders’ comment at Trump, the reaction has been total condemnation. Were African nations to act the way they should have acted, diplomatic actions should have been taken against U.S. envoys. They should have been summoned to explain what makes African nations shitholes.

That African immigrants in the U.S. have contributed immensely to the economic and political development of that country is a fundamental historical truth about the rise of America. Latest findings coming out in the wake of Trump’s comment showed that most of the African immigrants in the U.S. were likely to be the best from their countries of origin. Many of them have come into the U.S., earned higher degrees and a good number have fared better than native Americans of the same social status.

As it stands today there are an estimated 30,000 Nigerian doctors in the United States contributing in no small measure to the healthcare system of the American people. This is apart from other Nigerians who are university professors and those struggling with qualifying examinations for elite jobs. Then, there are nurses, social workers and care-givers and others engaging in professions many native Americans would cringe to undertake. It is a truism laden with confident nationalism that, in the United States, one would definitely find a Nigerian in all respectable professions.

Also, this is not to forget the contributions of South Africans, Kenyans and others from French-speaking African nations, who by their own right dominate certain informal labour force in the U.S. To turn blind eye to the contributions of people from these countries and label them as folks from shit countries, is the meanest display of ingratitude to the complementarity and diversity bestowed on human kind by God.

It is in this regard that the argument of this newspaper, when it criticised the spiraling anti-Black racism during the last months of the Obama administration bears repeating. The Guardian had then argued inter alia: “If America as a nation lays claim to anything good and beautiful it has acquired in the cause of its nationhood, it did not earn such from the white community alone; in the same way anything bad and ugly in the United States did not originate by virtue of the existence of the African-American people. The totality of all that makes America today and its greatness has the historical and cultural imprints of its different peoples, especially the peoples of African descent.”

It is against this background that the advice of the 78 U.S. envoys to 48 African countries urging President Trump not to disregard African countries should be heeded by the U.S. government.

No doubt, the short-comings of these countries are evident in their socio-economic and political structures and systems. However, to judge these countries of 50 years of checkered independent existence, based on the standards of a country that is about 240 years old as an independent nation, is an unfair comparison. This infidelity to history is demonstrated by the evolution of the United States itself. Notwithstanding global development at the time, what was the political, socio-economic standing of the U.S. when it was about 50 years old as an independent nation? How did it evolve to become what it is today? History has the record that until about 100 years ago or less, the United States of America was far worse than Trump’s so-called ‘shit countries.’

All this is not to disregard the kernel of truth so imprudently undermined by Trump’s racial vituperation. Despite the accomplishment and exploits of Africans in the United States and other countries of the west, these illustrious sons and daughters of the continent have failed to replicate the same feat in their motherland. This is for the singular reason that African leaders have failed to create an enabling environment for them to help transform the continent.

Thus, while African leaders are smarting from the pain and fury of Trump gratuitous insult, they should view it as a challenge to bring out the best in Africa. The inability of African leaders to create an enabling environment for gifted and hardworking Africans to use their creativity and ingenuity to solve problems on the continent is a deplorable set-back. That most of them still wallow in primitive accumulation of wealth, senseless craving for power and disregard for the rule of law, is justifiable indictment. That many, like Trump, are cut off from history, and cannot translate their global exposure into problem-solving tools for their local sphere of influence, is a mark of indolence that makes a mockery of the hardwork and ingenuity of the authentic African.

In support of the many voices that have criticised Trump’s derogatory comments, this newspaper insists that the President of the United States of America should present an unreserved apology to Africans and all the people of African descent. This is necessary to assuage the pain, fury and humiliation conveyed by his statement. An apology is also necessary to give respectability to the office of the President of the United States of America. While it may be profitable to have a strong and garrulous man as the president of a country, more powerful and influential in the long run is the one with strength of character. It is not enough to merely deny the shameful statement on Twitter, or to gloss over it by sweet-talking Africans and people of African descent about sharing the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr.Given President Trump’s history of misguided utterances, nothing short of self-blame, a retraction and an unreserved apology is acceptable.


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