In reaction to the racist and disparaging remarks made recently by U.S. President Donald Trump in the presence of congressmen, calling Haiti and African countries “s##holes,” there has been a wave of condemnation in the US and around the world.
What is unfortunate about this, however, is the fact that this came from the most powerful man on planet earth by virtue of the privileged position of the USA in the concert of nations.
As leader of the most democratic, best organized, and most developed economy in the world, Trump has the moral obligation to be decent, a model and standard that others can emulate. Sadly, he doesn’t seem to be conscious of his unique, perhaps divinely enshrined responsibility. As Trump, the man, he is at liberty not to like people of color. But as president of the United States, he is definitely on the wrong side of history in openly expressing hatred by insulting Haitians and Africans.
Immigration is a serious enough issue and American authorities can’t be blamed for seeking to control the flow of immigrants across their borders. Not even those so-called “s##hole” countries do allow aliens to violate their frontiers at random. I trust that American politicians can and will eventually solve the immigration equation given their astuteness and the robustness of American institutions.
What Trump said about African countries was incontestably racist and hurtful. But it was the truth, to be honest. That is why it hurts so deeply. However, it is worthy of note that ordinary African in the streets of Buea, Nairobi, Kinshasa, Lagos, Abidjan etc, may not feel particularly insulted by these remarks. The reason is simply that they know themselves to be decent people obliged by destiny to live in sometimes abject poverty and social conditions which anybody can describe as s##hole, for lack of a better word. This, thanks to poor governance and outright dictatorship imposed and sustained by Western neo-colonial vultures like France.
I assume that the fallacy in Trump’s reasoning, as with that of his other friends, is that if bad governance and autocracy be the cause of poverty and backwardness in Africa, then Africans ought to take responsibility for their choice of leaders.
This assumption begs the question, do African people actually choose their leaders? Do they have the leverage to make democratic choices considering the weak and often personalized institutions that hold sway in most African countries? The difference is clear.
In America, the institutions are strong and no man is above the law. Conversely, in Africa the institutions are weak and couched to satisfy the whims and caprices of the incumbent who naturally places himself above the law. Their powers are sweeping and they owe no one any account. Such is the predicament of the African people.
But rather than join the bandwagon of angry protesters in condemning Trump, who l respect on account of his being chosen by the American people, for his “negative” criticism of African nations, l want to make a plea to Trump and other well-meaning world leaders to do something for Africa. Not financial aid but action to change the political parameters.
Africa, the richest continent, blessed with natural and human resources, is in dire need of governance, responsible and accountable leadership, not financial aid. What can be done?
African dictators must be named and shamed. They should be isolated, ostracized and restricted through travel bans. In a nutshell, if autocratic rule is stamped out in Africa, the current immigration trends will be reversed and Africans will proudly pursue their African dream at home.