January 20, 2018
By Isaac Mwangi
East African News Agency, Arusha
Even though the description of Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as “shithole countries” by United States President Donald Trump elicited shock and dismay around the world, the whole scenario is much easier to understand from a historical and political perspective.
Indeed, the reactions were as varied as they could come. While Botswana summoned the American ambassador for an explanation, many other African countries simply kept off the matter. Both the African Union and the United Nations expressed their disappointment, as did millions of people from around the world.
But not everyone was condemnatory. Some people in the targeted countries felt that Trump had simply spoken the truth, given the state of events in these nations. Corruption, civil war, collapsed infrastructure, poor governance, and the many other ills bedevilling some of these countries, it appears, qualify them to be called “shithole”.
But this should lead the analytical observer to another question: How did these countries end up here? What are the factors that have led Africa to this sorry state, where nothing seems to work despite the continent being so rich in natural resources?
Racists like Trump would obviously want to think that Africans are lazy and stupid, and their Eurocentric narrative has been shoved down our throats until many Africans have lost all self-esteem. That is why white people are almost thought of as small gods by many Africans, including those who ought to know better.
But a basic knowledge of history informs us that before Europe started the rape of Africa centuries ago, the continent was no worse than anywhere else in the world. The history of Africa is one to be proud of, right from ancient days when Pharaohs reigned supreme and put up magnificent pyramids – and these were no doubt black people.
Indeed, Africa was literate long before Europe. Numerous kingdoms flourished on the continent. Unfortunately, Arabs and Europeans were keen to obliterate any trace of these great African civilisations.
The lowest point of these efforts to destroy black civilisations came with the slave trade, which went on for centuries and denied the continent of the manpower that would have advanced the then flourishing nation-states in Africa.
Without dignity there is no liberty, without justice there is no dignity, and without independence there are no free men” – reads part of Patrice Lumumba’s letter to his wife when he was detained at Thysville Prison, Congo.
Of course, Europeans had the advantage of having discovered gunpowder, which they used to ruthlessly bring the rest of the world under their control.
Today, no world leader can talk ill of the Jews and get away with it. Yet, the genocides perpetrated against Africans were by far worse than the Jewish Holocaust. Hundreds of millions of Africans were carted away to America over a period of several centuries in heartrending conditions, with millions of others dying.
The advent of colonialism also brought with it further massacres, the worst of which occurred in the Belgian Congo and in which up to 15 million people are said to have died..
There can be no debate over the fact that the United States of America was built upon the embers of the genocide of Native Americans and the suffering of black people.
In the circumstances, it becomes totally unconscionable and sickening for President Trump to talk in racist terms against Africans. Would he have got away, had he said the same against the Jews, given the history of the Holocaust?
Trump ought to be giving an apology. He should be negotiating the payment of reparations to Africa. He needs to be reminded, again and again, of the source of all the wealth that makes him an overfed bully – riches stolen from Africa.
In fact, there have been numerous occasions when Africa has shown signs of rising again from the ashes. Whenever that happens, our “friends” from the West have been more than helpful in killing all such dreams, including through the assassination of leaders whose policies would otherwise bring to an end western exploitation of Africa’s resources.
The late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was one such person. Captain Thomas Sankara, the assassinated leader of Burkina Faso, was another. Of course, there was also Patrice Lumumba of Congo.
More recently, we have seen America protecting its interests by quietly sanctioning President Uhuru Kenyatta’s stolen victory in Kenya’s presidential election.
With Western interference in the internal affairs of Africa far from over, we are unlikely to get out of the shithole any time soon. Plus, the arsehole that has messed Africa for centuries continues pouring its filth, unashamedly.