U.S. President Donald J. Trump's alleged scatological slurs against Haitians, Salvadorans and Africans have the world buzzing. Social media is running with its version of the allegation, disseminating fiery commentaries and exacerbating the anger that is burning hotter than a Californian wildfire.
The scope of coverage and intense reaction to Mr. Trump's recent remarks just about eclipsed reports of a major human error in Hawaii that could have plunged the world into a disastrous nuclear conflagration involving the United States and North Korea. This is how powerful the Trump "Shit-hole" story has been.
From the Cape of Good Hope to Cairo---from Freetown to Botswana, U.S. Ambassadors across Africa were summoned to provide clarity as to the alleged scatological and vile utterances of Mr. Trump. Several countries demanded a retraction of the statement, while others called for an immediate apology. The Africa Union and the United Nations also weighed in on this disturbing development.
I would be remiss if I did not disclose what President Trump is alleged to have said, as reported by international news organizations. During a bipartisan meeting at the White House on Thursday, January 11, 2018; while discussing the issue of immigration, President Trump is said to have made the following remarks: "Why are we allowing these people from shit-hole countries (like Africa, Haiti, and El Salvador) to keep coming here; why don’t we get more people from places like Norway instead?” As expected, Trump's statement infuriated people around the world. The liberal media, which Mr. Trump oftentimes refers to as purveyors of "Fake-news", immediately sprung into action, pouncing and trouncing on the story, spinning it every way possible so as to create an uproar and further turn public opinion against the American President. The campaign no doubt has been extremely effective.
My purpose for writing this article is to provoke thought as to what defines a shit-hole country, and whether President Trump's recent statement will have any impact on the leaders and peoples of Africa. Please indulge me as I engage in some plausible hypotheticals, and let us agree for a moment that President Trump did make the vulgar remarks as it is alleged. For those pounding their fists on the table and demanding that Mr. Trump retracts his statement; were this to happen, what substantial changes would it bring to Africa?
Will Malaria - Africa’s number-one killer - be eradicated?
Will it reduce infant mortality by at least 20%?
Will the high illiteracy rate across Africa be lowered by say 35%?
Will intra-Africa travel be made any easier?
Would some archaic cultural mores be eradicated so as to stop holding Africans back and retarding progress?
Would elders in that West African village stop denying girls from crossing over the river to get to school during their menstrual period, which causes them to lose more than 60 days out of the school year?
Would forced and underage marriage be eliminated?
Would taxes and donor funds be used to benefit the masses?
Would the practice of female genital mutilation cease permanently?
Would African leaders stop manipulating the constitution to extend their stay in power?
Would theft and pillage of the national coffers be aborted?
Would job creation for an anxious youth population be given priority?
Would attention be focused on infrastructure development to include roads, hospitals, schools, pipe borne water, electricity, telecommunication, and public transportation?
Will environmental degradation of ancestral lands due to crude oil spillage and the reckless felling of trees in the rainforest be halted with a 100% commitment to reforestation?
Would our national security be strengthened so that terrorist cells do not cobble in our cities and towns, indoctrinating the youths and other vulnerable groups?
Would retraction of Mr. Trump's "shit-hole" remark curtail the Continent's massive brain drain and lead to investment in our best and brightest minds?
Would members of legislatures and parliaments across Africa be duly committed to strengthening Democracy, rule of law, and statecraft?
Last but not least, would the leaders of Africa resolve to put first the interests and welfare of the peoples and commit to transforming lives through leverage and effective management of the Continent's vast natural resources?
These are the issues Africans must grapple with, so that no one will look down upon, shun, ostracize or refer to Africa as a continent of "shit-hole" countries. To be respected one must be worthy of respect. Have we forgotten who we are and our many contributions to humanity? Africans are the greatest inventors of all times. We invented Mathematics, Medicine, Speech, Architecture, and Engineering. We build the Great Pyramid of Giza and the great Sphinx of Giza. Metallurgy and fabrication of Iron tools, Mining of Minerals, Philosophy, and the Maxims of Ptah Hotep are also included among our numerous contributions. Africans have given much to the Arts, International Trade, Astronomy, Navigation, Law and Religion. Throughout the ages, the Black race has always been innovative and resourceful. Unfortunately, in recent times - since decolonization of the African continent, beginning in the late 1950s through the 1980s - complacency has set in, robbing us of our sense of purpose and direction.
Recent projections of global population growth have indicated that by the year 2050, Nigeria's population will exceed that of the United States. Also, by the middle of this Century, the world's population is expected to top 9.5 billion, reaching nearly 11 billion by 2100. More than half of the growth predicted between now and 2050 will be in Africa, where the number of people is set to more than double, from 1.1 billion to 2.4 billion. Africa's population is expected to rise even if there is a drop in the average number of children per family. This begs the question: Is Africa preparing for the impending population explosion and the attending challenges? Another issue to consider is tourism on the continent. Westerners do not come to Africa to borrow money because we have the finest banks and fabulous interest rates. Or because we have the most modern infrastructure and systems. Nor is it because we have the highest skilled labor pool and, or the most tech-savvy workforce. And for certain, investors are not at this moment clamoring at our doorsteps to relocate their businesses here in Africa. In fact, the vast majority of western visitors to the Continent come to see and enjoy the wildlife - animals. Yes, you heard right; Animals! Lions, Zebras, Hyenas, Elephants, Hippos, and Monkies. This must change. How many Africans do you know that leave the continent and travel to Europe, North-America, or Asia with the sole purpose of visiting zoos and tundras? Africans in general usually travel to Eastern and Western countries primarily for educational and economic opportunities.
No wonder a good number of the peoples in these countries are not receptive to African immigration. Mr. Trump no doubt was expressing the sentiments of many who have opted not to speak for obvious reasons. African immigrants oftentimes are seen as a burden - a liability and an added cost to taxpayers of the host country.
No matter how much negatives the liberal media attempts to pin on President Donald Trump for his alleged scatological slurs against Africans and Black people; factually, Trump is not Africa's problem. We are our own problem. Seemingly, the liberal media wants us to become collaborators in their food fight with Mr. Trump; this we must avoid. We have enough issues with which to concern ourselves. Mr. Trump was elected by the American people; he is their responsibility, not ours. However, if there's any truth in his general categorization of Africans, we must listen and take corrective measures. Sometimes one's critic could be his or her most sincere advisor.
It's high time we question the moral orthodoxy of the leaders we put into power...going forward elections in Africa must be taken seriously. Those elected must do right by the people. Africa can no longer be taken for granted or kept on the back burners. We ought to revisit the African agenda or create one for real growth and prosperity.
Elected leaders should reflect on what it means to be representatives of the people, and they must be accountable. Those in positions of authority must recalibrate, decommission their egos, and behave as servants of the people. The winds of change are gathering; if this generation of Africans does not transform, they will be blown away.
The donor community is fatigued, and our benefactors are overwhelmed. They are beginning to prep Africa for the new dispensation, which means the culture of dependency must end. Africa's current corps of leaders cannot afford to miss the signals coming from the United States, the European Union, and other international partners.
Extremely high aid-dependent countries such as Liberia must develop new strategies to ensure stability and survivability. Reliance on donor funding for basic services and development is no longer an option. The peoples of Africa must be the primary beneficiaries of their bountiful natural resources and other inherited wealth. Education is the means through which this could be achieved. In conclusion, I hasten to inform those lacking historical knowledge that Africa is the Cradle of Civilization and a sweet smelling rose for mankind; not even the odoriferous colonial-induced poverty, ignorance, and disease can reduce this dynamic continent to a shit-hole.
TQ Harris, Contributing Writer