Africa Might Be a 'Shithole' but We Love It Here!

United States President Donald Trump
17 January 2018

The United States of America president, Donald Trump, kicked up a shit storm when he allegedly described African countries (along with Haiti and El Salvador) as a shithole.

In a meeting on Thursday with some American lawmakers on US immigration policy, Trump reportedly stated that the United States should accept migrants from countries like Norway, not the said "shithole" countries.

Trump's alleged statements drew immediate and widespread condemnation, with some, including the UN and the African Union, describing them as racist. The African Union has asked Trump to apologize. If, indeed, Trump is racist, I don't see how apologizing changes that.

Ironically, even as you read this, many African leaders will be busy lobbying the White House and the State Department, or at least hoping, that the alleged racist blesses their government with a visit one of these days. I am yet to hear of a single African leader or the African Union tell Mr Trump that he would not be welcome to this 'shithole'.

President Trump doesn't understand migration dynamics in the United States, let alone the world. Or maybe he just won't let the facts get in the way of his racist views.

If he is irked about immigration to his country, President Trump shouldn't look in Africa's direction. The number of African migrants to the United States, of both the legal and illegal variety, is quite insignificant (see table). By far, most migrants to America, both historically and currently, come from Latin and Central America, Asia and Europe - not Africa. Not a single African country features in the top ten exporters of migrants to America.

America does not have an African immigration problem; it is only in Trump's head. In this sense, Trump is just like some Europeans and Americans who, each time they see an African - any African - assume that he or she would do anything to get out of Africa.

Certainly many Africans would rather stay in their 'shitholes' than go to 'clean shit' in America. It could also be that most are simply stuck in this shithole, but Trump need not worry; they are not going to suddenly show up on America's east coast.

To the extent that Africa is a shithole, there are not many countries that have contributed to digging it as much as the United States of America: from slavery to sponsoring coups in the 1960s, cooperating with apartheid regimes (albeit intermittently), fueling conflicts and propping up nasty dictators.

When an American president suggests that Africans are full of shit, Africans are entitled to get mad. True or not, no one likes to be called a shithead. To call entire countries shitholes is downright unacceptable in civilized society!

The reality, however, is that Trump can afford to call our countries a shithole because he knows that tomorrow, our leaders will be knocking on his door, groveling to him, cap in hand. But he should also know that not every African is dying to go to America.

Number of immigrants living in the United States (2016)

Total 43,738,901

The Americas (Canada, Latin America, Central America, Southern America and the Caribbean) 23,085,493

Asia 13,461,081

Europe 4,785,267

Africa 2,141,197

Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) 265,863

Source: Migration Policy Institute, Washington DC, USA.

The author is a former journalist.

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