Angry Africans demand Trump apology for slur

A demonstrator in Miami adds her view to the chorus of condemnation of President Donald Trump's reported statement about immigrants from Haiti, Africa and El Salvador.
A demonstrator in Miami adds her view to the chorus of condemnation of President Donald Trump's reported statement about immigrants from Haiti, Africa and El Salvador.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

US President accused of racism and ignorance as continent's diplomats present united front

NAIROBI • Africans have reacted angrily after United States President Donald Trump reportedly referred to their nations as "s***hole countries", with many accusing him of racism and ignorance.
 

The 55-nation African Union condemned the remarks last 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 on the resolution after an emergency session to weigh Mr Trump's remarks.

"For once, we are all on the same page," an ambassador said.

The comment was "clearly" racist, said Ms Ebba Kalondo, spokeswoman for African Union 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."

TRUMP, YOUR KIND ARE TO BLAME

President Trump, One day, I'll take you to a 's***hole' country called Ghana. First stop would be Osu Castle, Elmina 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 's***hole' continent."

GHANAIAN EDMOND PRIME SARPONG, on Facebook.


NOTHING NEW HERE

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

PROMINENT KENYAN COMMENTATOR PATRICK GATHARA


MIGRANTS MADE AMERICA

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.

MS EBBA KALONDO, spokeswoman for African union chief Moussa Faki.


BLACK PEOPLE DESERVE RESPECT

I am shocked by President Trump's comments on Haiti and Africa. I reject them and condemn them vigorously. Africa and black people deserve the respect and consideration of all.

SENEGAL'S PRESIDENT MACKY SALL, on Twitter.

Mr Trump's comments were allegedly made last Thursday at a White House meeting with lawmakers on immigration reform.

After lawmakers raised the issue of protections for immigrants from African nations, Haiti and El Salvador, the President reportedly demanded to know why the United States should accept immigrants from "s***hole countries", rather than - for instance - wealthy and overwhelmingly white Norway.

He tweeted a convoluted denial last Friday in an attempt to quell outrage both at home and abroad.

The State Department appeared to have gone into damage-repair mode. Without directly referring to the President's contentious statement, its main Africa account said on Twitter that "the United States will continue to robustly, enthusiastically and forcefully engage in Africa, promoting this vital relationship, and to listen and build on the trust and views we share with our African partners".

The tweet was framed as a comment on a meeting of African ministers that the department hosted in November, but not everyone accepted that gesture.

Botswana summoned the US ambassador to the country to "clarify if Botswana is regarded as a 's***hole' country", according to a Foreign Ministry statement calling Mr Trump's comments "irresponsible, reprehensible and racist".

Senegal followed suit with Foreign Minister Sidiki Kaba saying the government "firmly condemned the unacceptable remarks".

"I am shocked by President Trump's comments on Haiti and Africa," Senegal's President Macky Sall wrote on Twitter.

"I reject them and condemn them vigorously. Africa and black people deserve the respect and consideration of all."

In South Africa, the ruling African National Congress party declared "ours is not a s***hole country" and described Mr Trump as "extremely offensive".

Many Africans reminded the US of its historic role in the continent's woes. "President Trump, One day, I'll take you to a 's***hole' country called Ghana," wrote Ghanaian Edmond Prime Sarpong on Facebook.

"First stop would be Osu Castle, Elmina 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 's***hole' continent," he said.

Across social media, Africans and Haitians shared pictures of beautiful beaches, tree-lined streets and glamorous tourist resorts captioned with the insult.

Prominent Kenyan commentator Patrick Gathara said that Mr 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 s****y people from s****y countries."

But in Dakar, Senegal, diners at a beachside restaurant that serves Moscow mules and mojitos declined to express their views about Mr Trump, fearing they might be denied visas to visit the US.

Still others said Mr Trump may have had a point, citing the endemic corruption, public health challenges and poverty in many African nations.

"That's why we're being termed a s***hole," Mr Andrew Mataso, 55, a business executive, said on a busy street in Nairobi.

Mr Babacar Faye, a tailor in Dakar, said Mr Trump's comments were not surprising. "White people in general don't like black people," he said. "They just pretend to like us, but they don't."

But Ms Phoebe Mutetsi in Kigali, Rwanda, said she was not falling for it. "Trump is a troll," she said. "He is trolling the world. Don't feed the troll."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 14, 2018, with the headline 'Angry Africans demand Trump apology for slur'. Print Edition | Subscribe