Donald Trump’s first meaningful interaction with leaders of African nations came in September, when the American president spoke at a United Nations luncheon. Reading from a prepared text, Trump boasted about U.S. health partnerships in Africa, boasting, “Nambia’s health system is increasingly self-sufficient.”
The problem, of course, is that there’s no such country as Nambia. There’s a Zambia, a Gambia, and a Namibia, but no Nambia.
At the same event, the Republican strayed from his prepared text to tell the African leaders, “I have so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich. I congratulate you.” Given the attendees’ familiarity with colonialism, they didn’t seem especially impressed by an American billionaire with a troubled history on race boasting about his friends trying to enrich themselves in Africa.
Four months later, I think it’s safe to say, in the wake of Trump’s “shithole countries” comments, his standing among Africans is vastly worse. NBC News reported:
In addition to Ghana, the government of Botswana said Trump’s language is “reprehensible and racist,” and said it has summoned the U.S. ambassador to clarify what he meant.
Senegal’s president, Macky Sall, said in a statement that it was “shocked” and that “Africa and the black race merit the respect and consideration of all.” His West African nation has long been lauded by the U.S. as an example of a stable democracy on the continent.
The African Union, which is made up of 55 member states, also took issue with Trump’s remarks. “Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice,” said spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo.
“The African Union Mission wishes to express its infuriation, disappointment and outrage over the unfortunate comment made by Mr. Donald Trump, President of the United States of America, which remarks dishonor the celebrated American creed and respect for diversity and human dignity,” the African Union mission to the United States said in its statement.
Condemning the comments “in the strongest terms,” the AU demanded “a retraction of the comment as well as an apology, not only to the Africans, but to all people of African descent around the globe.”
CNN’s report added that African UN envoys issued a statement saying their group is “extremely appalled at, and strongly condemns the outrageous, racist and xenophobic remarks attributed to the President of the United States of America.” The statement from the envoys was released following an emergency meeting, called in response to Trump’s comments.
Today, South Africa will reportedly issue a diplomatic protest in response to the controversy, and demand an official explanation.
All of this comes on the heels of Trump scrapping plans for a London trip, which was apparently canceled in large part because the American president is deeply unpopular in the capital city of one of the United States’ closest allies.
Last summer, shortly after Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, Vice President Mike Pence appeared on Fox News and hailed the American president’s leadership on the global stage. “The world is seeing that we have a president again who is embracing his role as leader of the free world,” Pence said.
How’s that working out? Can anyone think of any countries – other than Russia – that hold the United States in higher regard since the Trump era began?