There is shock around the world today and it would be a gross understatement to merely call it racist. Donald Trump’s reference to Africa is reprehensible and outrageous to say the very least; indeed the insult reeks of calculated malevolence driven by prejudice against the colour of the skin. In a sense, he has reinforced the black-and-white paradigm.
The hair-raisingly intemperate language has served to denude the presidency of the United States, most particularly Trump’s allusion to Haiti and what he calls the other “shithole countries” of Africa while rejecting a bipartisan deal on immigration. The Head of State has crossed the limits of civility and his language has been trashed as “vile and vulgar” even within his country, most particularly outside the White House bubble. “Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behaviour and practice,” was the immediate reaction of the African Union spokesperson, Ebba Kalondo.
At a more emotive level, the hatred towards Barack Obama’s roots now extends throughout the Continent. And yet Africa might be wary of a robust counter-blast not least because some its governments are among the top recipients of US aid, and might hesitate to rock the “assistance boat” quite yet and at a critical juncture… when the Trump administration has sought to slash foreign assistance and not merely to Pakistan and Palestine.
It is a measure of the almost inevitable downslide in America’s currently fuzzy foreign policy that the country’s diplomats around the world were summoned for formal reproach, amid global shock that such crude remarks could ever be made by the President of America whose international standing has almost immediately plummeted… from the United Nations to the Vatican. And yet Mr Trump’s withers remain unwrung, going by his strained damage-limitation exercise to wriggle out of a putrid mess of his own creation.
The UN has said it was impossible to describe his remarks as anything other than racist, while the Vatican has trashed Trump’s words as “particularly harsh and offensive”. Rarely in the history of America has the Oval Office had its back to the wall ~ in the perception of the world ~ as since 12 January this year, barely a fortnight ahead of the first anniversary of the presidential inaugural. Last Friday’s projection of the World Bank can be contextualised with Trump’s recklessness as America lurches from crisis to crisis.
The economic growth of sub-Saharan Africa has been forecast at 3.2 per cent, indeed the US economy’s annual rate of growth from July to September. Mr Trump has shot himself in the foot and considerable is the damage caused to his standing. He has crafted one of the worst chapters in the history of the Presidency. And it shall not be easy for the President of America to sweep the detritus beneath the White House carpet.