Why are African leaders reacting to Trump’s ‘shithole’ insult but silent on many others?

Ismail Akwei January 14, 2018
US President Donald Trump speaks before a luncheon with US and African leaders at the Palace Hotel during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2017 in New York. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

African leaders have demanded a retraction and apology from United States President Donald Trump who described African countries, Haiti and El Salvador as “shithole” countries during a meeting last Thursday.

Botswana was the first country on the continent to condemn Trump’s unguarded remark which sparked outrage around the world. South Africa among others also expressed their displeasure followed by the Senegalese and Ghanaian presidents who tweeted about their “shock” at the insult.

An unprecedented statement was released by the continental body African Union and African ambassadors to the United Nations. The former condemned the comment in the strongest terms and demanded an “apology to Africans and people of African descent”.

The latter condemned the “outrageous, racist and xenophobic” comment and expressed concern about the “continuing and growing trend from the U.S. administration towards Africa and people of African descent to denigrate the continent and people of colour”.

These reactions are timely and Africans deserve proactive leaders who will come to their defence in such instances. However, many other insulting comments and actions in the recent years have gone by without any statement from African leaders.

The most notable “insults” are the planned expulsion of about 40,000 African refugee-seekers from Israel who have been left with no choice but prison or deportation to Uganda or Rwanda.

These refugees are mainly from Sudan and Eritrea where they are suffering from the political and social instability, yet the Israeli government says it will not accommodate these migrants as refugees but can accommodate them as prisoners.

Another insult is the torture, murder and enslavement of migrants who use Libya as a transit route to reach Europe. Libyan authorities financed by the European Union have locked up migrants in concentrated detention centres under harsh conditions while others have been caught on camera selling some of the migrants into slavery.

These and many more insults did not receive quick reactions from African leaders nor action to protect the lives of fellow Africans.

We cannot forget about the fact that fellow Africans in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions are being tortured and killed by the Paul Biya government for expressing their desires and calling for an end to marginalization. Thousands were killed by the Ethiopian government forces for coming out to demonstrate against ill-treatment and marginalization by the government.

Can the African Union and other leaders issue statements and take action against these injustices in the continent to protect us from further insults and ridicule?

Here are shared sentiments on this perspective:

Last Edited by:Ismail Akwei Updated: September 15, 2018


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