Ever since he assumed office in January this year, the U.S. President Donald President has always portrayed an unprecedented level of indifference towards Africa that has never been shown by any other American President before.
Although the controversial head of state maintains that he has the best intentions for Africa, his actions have often told a different story about his commitment to working with the continent. It’s a kind of uncaring attitude that has left many Africans worried about future relations between the two continents.
Immediately after assuming office, Trump issued an executive order banning citizens from various majority Muslim countries to enter America. Three African countries were directly affected by the ban, namely Libya, Somalia, and Sudan.
In his arguments, Trump insists that citizens from these countries are a threat to America and he believes they are working with terrorist organizations. But in actual fact most of these Africans are refugees escaping persecution by their autocratic governments.
Indeed, many of them have been victims of terror attacks in their home countries. By denying them entry to the United States, these refugees are left with no choice but to join terror organizations as a way of keeping themselves and their families safe.
In March, Trump made good his election promise to cut his government’s foreign aid spending by proposing an overall 32 percent cut to all civilian foreign affairs spending. Critics have argued that these cuts will have far-reaching effects on poor Africans who rely on foreign aid to survive.
Among those who will bear the greatest brunt are the people living with HIV/AIDS, who rely on free antiretroviral drugs given by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other non-profit organizations.
Aside from making domineering policies, Trump also appears to be fundamentally unfamiliar with basic information about Africa. At the last G-20 session on African health and migration held in Germany in July, Trump walked out in the middle of the conference without any apparent reason. He only tapped his daughter Ivanka to step in for him.
This incident followed another major diplomatic blunder in May during the G-7 summit in Italy, where Mr. Trump removed his headphones when the President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou started making his speech in French.
On Tuesday last week, during a meeting with African leaders on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the U.S. President repetitively mispronounced Namibia, a South African country, as “Nambia”, perhaps confusing it with the neighboring Zambia.
He also mentioned that Nigeria had been affected by a “horrifying” Ebola epidemic, possibly confusing it with Liberia. And to add insult to injury, the POTUS started his speech by jokingly telling African leaders that many of his friends have been relocating to Africa in an attempt to get rich.
His joke was met with a resounding silence even as he tried to justify his remarks by insisting that the continent has “tremendous” potential.
While some Trump supporters see these blunders as genuine mistakes, his critics say his actions since he took office have shown total disregard for Africa. In fact many experts have warned that his continued indifference towards the continent will have a long-term effect on millions of Africans.