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Much ado about ‘shithole’


(FILES) This file photo taken on December 12, 2017 shows US President Donald Trump speaking prior to signing H.R. 2810, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, during a signing ceremony in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, DC. US President Donald Trump grudgingly agreed not to reimpose nuclear sanctions on Iran on January 12, 2018, but officials warned that it would be the last time he issues such a waiver. Instead, a senior White House official said, Trump wants Washington’s European allies to use the 60-day period before sanctions relief again comes up for renewal to agree on tougher measures. SAUL LOEB / AFP

Sir: The comment credited to the United States President Donald Trump where he described Africa and other countries like Haiti as shithole has continued to generate reactions from many African pseudo-nationalists in particular and supra national bodies like the United Nations, among others.

To most of the antagonists of Trump, his description of Africa among others as shithole is racist. I have been seeing the headlines in our dailies for sometime before I develop interest in reading some of the reactions which form the basis of this piece.

Trump is a racist, no doubt about that. He has never denied seeing America and white in particular as a superior race to other races in the world and has always proven this in his words and actions. Therefore, Trump could be charged for racism even before making the shithole comment. However, contextually, shall we lead Trump to the Golgotha because of the shithole comment? During the campaign that led to his emergence as the U.S. President, Trump made questions African and South American immigrants a kernel of his campaign message. He had shown disdain for immigrants from these places for competing with the whites over limited jobs space and never hid his intention to reform the immigration policy to stop them from coming to the U.S.

Therefore, now as the president, if he makes an unpleasant remark about Africa and Caribbean, it should surprise no one.

There is no doubt that many of the commentators on the shithole palaver have never sought the meaning of shithole in a good dictionary. If this was done, they would have been less belligerent in their reaction to Trump. Besides, America is a free society where no comment is taken as a hate speech. So Trump is free to hold his opinion no matter how offensive it might be. Inversely, Americans also have the obligation to reply Trump even in foul language.

My concern here is the veracity of Trump’s claim or position on Africa.
Oxford / Advanced Learners Dictionary define shithole as dirty, unpleasant, not pleasant, not comfortable, not kind, not friendly and not polite. Going by this definition and the rate at which Africans, especially Nigerians are fleeing the country legally and illegally as evident in the number of Nigerians and other nationals rescued from hell pit which Libya is, slave trade and human tragedy in the Sahara Desert and on the Mediterranean Sea, can we say that Africa is comfortable? Going back to Libya’s case, the country has been divided into spheres of influence by ethnic militias with no clear government, which has turned the country into a failed state. What of Somalia and Sudan? What about xenophobic attack going on in South Africa?

With due respect to the present Federal Government for its effort to bring back sanity to the North East of Nigeria, has Boko Haram not carved a sphere of influence for itself and dismembered this nation? What of the incessant bloodletting by herdsmen and cultists?

Obviously, going by the resources which nature has placed in Africa including human, Africa is supposed to be a destination for people from other continents and not the other way round.

Development scholars, Samir Amin, Franz Fanon, Walter Rodney, Bade Onimode, Claude Ake, M.A. Mojuetan and many others have shown through their works how Europe and America underdeveloped Africa, which means the unpleasantness of Africa was caused by Trump’s forefathers.

However, having known the source of our predicament, what have we done as a people to right the wrong? Instead of holding the bull by the horn and chart a new course for ourselves, we continue to kowtow to the neocolonialists and ape their sociopolitical and economic culture – religion, presidentialism and capitalism which further deepen our misery as a continent.
Adewuyi Adegbite.

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