Americans woke up during the second week of 2018 to another of United States President Donald Trump’s tirades. He dismissed Africa and its people as those living in “shithole” countries. He had singled out Haiti and Nigeria a few weeks earlier.
There was an immediate global uproar. How dare you, people asked? The African Union, for the first time ever, publicly rebuked the American president. US ambassadors in African countries rushed to find ways to minimise the impact of Trump’s comments. And people in African nations went online telling Trump where exactly to get off.
Trump’s outburst was part of a pattern. During its first year in office, the Trump administration has failed to come up with a serious African policy, providing only makeshift responses to events on the continent. Trump’s knowledge of the continent seemed to be obtained from lightweight movies such as “Tarzan” and “The Gods must be Crazy,” and books such as Henry Morton Stanley’s “Through the Dark Continent.” Yet Trump’s derogatory comments should be turned into teachable moment because the miseducation of Americans about Africa runs deep.
Copyright © 2017, Julius A. Amin
Amin, Julius A., "Trump’s Insult Is Fed by Deep Ignorance about Africa among Americans" (2018). History Faculty Publications. 134.