African na­tions de­mand Trump’s apol­ogy

Bloc of 55 African na­tions ac­cuses the US pres­i­dent of racism and ig­no­rance; Trump in his tweet de­nies us­ing in­sult­ing lan­guage; Botswana sum­mons US en­voy over the is­sue; UN slams re­marks as ‘shock­ing, shame­ful’

The Gulf Today - - AMERICAS -

NAIROBI: Africans have re­acted an­grily af­ter US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump re­port­edly re­ferred to their na­tions as “shit­hole coun­tries”, with many ac­cus­ing the US pres­i­dent of racism and ig­no­rance.

The 55- na­tion african union con­demned the re­marks on Fri­day, while a state­ment from am­bas­sadors of all coun­tries from the con­ti­nent at the United Na­tions de­manded a re­trac­tion and apol­ogy.

The African Group of UN am­bas­sadors said it was “ex­tremely ap­palled at, and strongly con­demns the out­ra­geous, racist and xeno­pho­bic re­marks by the pres­i­dent of the United States of Amer­ica as widely re­ported by the me­dia.”

Am­bas­sadors unan­i­mously agreed the res­o­lu­tion af­ter an emer­gency ses­sion to weigh Trump’s re­marks.

The 54-na­tion UN African Group, which does not in­clude West­ern Sa­hara, de­manded a “re­trac­tion and an apol­ogy” from Trump, while thank­ing Amer­i­cans “from all walks of life who have con­demned the re­marks”.

The com­ment was “clearly” racist, said Ebba Kalondo, spokes­woman for AU chief Moussa Faki.

“This is even more hurt­ful given the his­tor­i­cal re­al­ity of just how many Africans ar­rived in the United States as slaves, and also ter­ri­bly sur­pris­ing as the United States re­mains a mas­sively pos­i­tive ex­am­ple as just how mi­gra­tion can give birth to a na­tion,” Kalondo said.

He stressed the US was “much stronger than the sum to­tal of one man”.

Trump re­port­edly de­manded to know why the United States should ac­cept im­mi­grants from “shit­hole coun­tries,” af­ter law­mak­ers raised the is­sue of pro­tec­tions for im­mi­grants from African na­tions, Haiti and El Sal­vador.

How­ever he later tweeted: “this was not the lan­guage used.”

The United Na­tions slammed the re­ported re­marks as “shock­ing and shame­ful” and “racist.”

“You can­not dis­miss en­tire coun­tries and con­ti­nents as ‘shit­holes’ whose en­tire pop­u­la­tions, who are not white, are there­fore not wel­come,” Ru­pert Colville, spokesman for the UN hu­man rights of- ice, told re­porters in Geneva.

Botswana sum­moned the US am­bas­sador to the coun­try to “clar­ify if Botswana is re­garded as a ‘shit­hole’ coun­try”, ac­cord­ing to a for­eign min­istry state­ment call­ing Trump’s com­ments “ir­re­spon­si­ble, rep­re­hen­si­ble and racist”.

Sene­gal fol­lowed suit with For­eign Min­is­ter Sidiki Kaba say­ing the govern­ment “irmly con­demned the un­ac­cept­able re­marks which un­der­mine hu­man dig­nity, es­pe­cially of Africa and her di­as­pora”.

Trump was widely de­rided last year af­ter twice re­fer­ring to Namibia as “Nam­bia”.

So­cial me­dia users across the con­ti­nent posted images of mod­ern sky­lines and beau­ti­ful na­ture from their coun­tries with the hash­tag “shit­hole”.

Many Africans re­minded the US of its his­toric role in the con­ti­nent’s woes.

“Pres­i­dent Trump, One day, I’ll take you to a ‘shit­hole’ coun­try called Ghana,” wrote Ghana­ian Ed­mond Prime Sar­pong on Face­book.

“First stop would be osu cas­tle, el min a Cas­tle, and the over 40 Forts that de­tained about 30 mil­lion slaves, beaten and shipped out like sar­dine cans and then I will tell you the his­tory of Africa and why peo­ple like you made that a ‘shit­hole’ con­ti­nent.”

Prom­i­nent Kenyan com­men­ta­tor Pa­trick Gathara told re­porters that Trump’s words were noth­ing new.

“This is no dif­fer­ent from what Hol­ly­wood and West­ern me­dia have been say­ing about Africa for decades. We have con­sis­tently been por­trayed as shitty peo­ple from shitty coun­tries.”

Some ac­knowl­edged prob­lems in their coun­tries, but blamed this on their poor lead­ers as well as West­ern na­tions.

“Please don’t con­fuse the #shit­hole lead­ers we Africans elect with our beau­ti­ful con­ti­nent... Our moth­er­land is the most blessed con­ti­nent that has been raped by im­pe­ri­al­ists in col­lab­o­ra­tion with our shitty mis­lead­ers for gen­er­a­tions,” wrote Kenyan ac­tivist Boni­face Mwangi on Twit­ter.

In South Africa, the rul­ing African Na­tional Congress party de­clared “ours is not a shit­hole coun­try” and de­scribed Trump as “ex­tremely of­fen­sive.”

Some Nige­ri­ans did not hold back, with many on Twit­ter say­ing their coun­try was a “shit­hole”, but that it was “our shit­hole” to crit­i­cise.

In Sene­gal’s cap­i­tal Dakar, ad­min­is­tra­tor Idrissa Fall said “we can­not re­ally say that he (Trump) is wrong.”

“African coun­tries, and some­times our lead­ers, do not ex­actly deal with the prob­lems of the worst-off, that’s what makes peo­ple im­mi­grate.”

Even war-torn South Su­dan weighed in, with Pres­i­dent Salva Kiir’s spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny slam­ming the com­ments as “out­ra­geous.”

How­ever Juba busi­ness­woman Jenny Jore, 31, told AFP that Trump’s re­marks were “on point.”

“It is thanks to our African lead­ers that we are in­sulted that way,” she said.

Trump’s lat­est com­ments pro­vided am­ple fod­der for talk-show hosts.

South African co­me­dian Trevor Noah, star of “The Daily Show”, de­scribed him­self as an of­fended cit­i­zen of “South Shit­hole” an­dal­s­o­crit­i­cisedtrump’spre­ferred­choice of Nor­way for im­mi­grants.


Don­ald Trump greets Dr Ronny Jack­son af­ter his an­nual phys­i­cal exam at Wal­ter Reed Na­tional Mil­i­tary Med­i­cal Centre in Bethesda, Mary­land, on Fri­day.

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