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Trump’s Shithole Comment And The Flip Side Of Diplomacy



US President, Donald Trump

Ever since Donald Trump was sworn in as the President of the United States on 20 January, 2017, the entire world has been apprehensive of his undiplomatic and provocative utterances. One of such outbursts was last Thursday’s reference to African countries, Haiti and El Salvador.  Omonu Nelson examines the mood of the times.

The entire world has been enraged in the past week, following a denigrating comment, credited to the United States President, Donald J. Trump in which he described African Countries, Haiti and El Salvador as ‘Shithole’.

“Why are we having all these people, (referring to African Countries, Haiti, El Salvador) from ‘Shithole Countries’ come here”? He then wondered, “Why should we not bring more people from Norway instead?”

Trump is said to have made this statement during a meeting with some US Lawmakers on Immigration.

An international Affairs analysts, Dr Milton Okanagan opined that, “Trump’s bare face comment is his nature of less adherence to diplomatic ethos. He insisted that, successive western leaders have always described the African condition, using diplomatic ‘sugar coated’ tongues.

“This is a call to reawakening and self-examination, African countries have for too long, suffered shame and reproach among the coming of nations. Trump’s undiplomatic manner notwithstanding, leaders on the continent should take the challenge and make life better for their people. So that young men will stop dying on the Mediterranean Sea.”

Though the Constitution of nations confers every right on the governments to determine the country’s Immigration Policy.  However, International Affairs analyst are of the view that such policies should be guided by certain global conventional norms and decency.”

Nigeria, Monday, demonstrated her anger against Trump’s unguarded comment, when it summoned the US Ambassador to Nigeria, W. Stuart Symington to clarify Trump’s comment.

The US Ambassador, who was out of Nigeria, was represented by Ambassador David J. Young. The Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the United States of America in Abuja.

Ambassador Young pointed out that there were contradicting accounts by those present as to the veracity or otherwise of the substance of the remarks.

International organisations including the UN, African Union, politicians and other Africans and Caribbeans have also joined in the condemnation of Trump’s racist remarks.

Rupert Colville, spokesman of the UN human rights office said: “You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as shitholes … I’m sorry, but there’s no other word one can use but racist.” Colville added the story wasn’t “just a story about vulgar language, it’s about opening the door to humanity’s worst side.”

A Nigerian based NGO, Revive Nigeria Group (RNG) in a press statement said, “African nations and Nigeria in particular, should have every reason to repudiate in unequivocal terms this current and absolutely despicable collective denigration and characterisation of Africans and Haitians. This is beyond the pale and clearly crosses any proverbial ‘red line’ of decency.”

The African Union said it was ‘frankly alarmed’. “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,” said AU spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo.

Following the publication of the media reports, the White House issued a statement in which it did not directly challenge the authenticity of the comments.

“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” the White House said.

Trump denied the racist remarks, tweeting Sunday, that the language he used “was tough, but this was not the language used”, as he called for a “merit- based system of immigration and people who will take our country to the next level”.

He later tweeted that he has “never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than that Haiti is obviously a very poor and troubled country.”

The Haitian government said Trump’s reported comments shows a “racist view of the Haitian community,” the Associated Press said.

Rene Civil, an activist in Haiti, said that Trump is “destabilising, a president who uses vulgar words, who is unacceptable”. Civil added: “We [Haitians] demand that Trump apologise [to] the entire African continent, as well as before Haiti, a country whose blood has been used by ancestors who have used their minds and bodies to liberate the United States itself from slavery”.

South Africa’s ruling ANC party said Trump’s comments were “extremely offensive”, with a spokeswoman saying the party would never deign to make such derogatory remarks.

On the flip side, some analysts have maintained that, uncoated, undiplomatic and hurtful as the comment may seem, Trump has just told African nations the home truth. They urged African leaders to take an introspective look at the fate of the continent and take steps, proactive steps that will salvage the content from its current wretched state, instead of shamelessly demanding for apology from a leader who has decided to state the obvious.





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