You Took Africans As Slaves But Now You Won’t Take Desperate Refugees?

February 01, 2017 at 04:00 pm | Opinions & Features

Fredrick Ngugi

Fredrick Ngugi | Contributor

February 01, 2017 at 04:00 pm | Opinions & Features

African migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea on a inflatable boat. Pinterest

Nobody doubted that Africa was going to suffer consequences under Donald Trump’s administration, but no one thought these effects would kick in so soon.

Among the seven Muslim-majority countries that were banned from traveling to the United States in Trump’s executive order, three are African: Libya, Somalia, and Sudan.

Citizens from these countries will not be able to enter the United States for the next 90 days and no refugee will be admitted for 120 days, according to the directive.

Although the U.S. government has refuted claims that it is discriminating against Muslims, the executive order is already wreaking havoc and sending shock waves across the African continent, with African leaders accusing the U.S. government of hypocrisy and double standards.

At the just-concluded 28th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the outgoing chairperson of the AU Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, sensationally questioned why the United States was willing to take in African slaves during the Transatlantic Slave Trade but now won’t host desperate refugees and immigrants from the continent.

A Sordid Past

In the dark days of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, it is estimated that at least 15 million Africans were shipped to America and forced in to slavery.

According to United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the transatlantic slave trade, which victimized Black men, women, and children, was the biggest deportation in history and the determining factor in the world economy of the 18th century.

None of these Africans or their descendants have ever been compensated for these abuses.

In her speech Monday, Dlamini-Zuma warned that the Trump administration is most likely going to be one of the greatest challenges for African unity.

Whether this is true is debatable, but the reality is that African nations should brace themselves for some turbulent times ahead as far as diplomatic relations with the United States is concerned.

Unfortunately, such diplomatic tussles will only serve to expose vulnerable individuals and communities to further abuse and suffering.

This is distressing because the majority of refugees fleeing to America and other Western countries are escaping deadly civil wars, religious persecution, and prolonged famine in their home countries.

Alienating such persons based on their religion or the region they come from is indeed the highest level of moral failure that a country like America can ever show.

It is sad to imagine that a country that has been lecturing the rest of the world on the need to embrace democracy is the one discriminating against people based on their race and religion.

Even though the American government has a duty to protect its citizens, it is naïve to assume that the fight against terrorism will be won by separating from the rest of the world.

In fact, high-profile security analysts have warned that such actions are more likely to help terror groups advance their agendas and make it easy for them to recruit jihad fighters.

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