Special to USAfricaonline.com and USAfrica multimedia networks, Houston
With less than 5 weeks to the graceless distractions, dubious diversions, tiresome tirades and degrading twists to the certain end of his presidency on January 20, 2021, millions of African peoples across the world will remember the U.S controversial President Donald J. Trump for many things.
The first and the most notorious will be his controversial three words: “shit hole countries.” Especially as we take stock of his tumultuous four years at the White House.
The 2018 Trumpian faux pas and crass crudity of his collective condemnation of African and African heritage nations as “all these shit hole countries”, cast a long, lingering shadow over almost all other efforts on diplomatic, immigration and business relationships.
Unfortunately for him, persons and scholars of African heritage will remember Trump’s negative words far more than anything he did or intended to do in the African continent.
He drew domestic and international outrage over derogatory comments he reportedly made on Thursday January 11, 2018.
A few hours after Trump’s abrasive, condescending comments were revealed, MSNBC tv talkshow host Lawrence O’Donnell dropped his own bombshell, said: Donald “Trump is a raging ignoramus.”
The acid-tongue businessman turned politician referred to Haiti and African nations as “shit hole countries” during a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators at the White House, reported first by The Washington Post.
Trump asked why America would want immigrants from “all these shit hole countries.”
Trump added that the U.S. should have more people coming in from places like Norway. He met with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the White House, the previous day.
There was bi-partisan condemnation of Trump’s comments, including Republican Rep. Mia Love — the daughter of Haitian immigrants — who not only demanded an apology from the President but denounced it as ”unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation’s values.”
The African Union, and African ambassadors to the United Nations expressed “infuriation, disappointment and outrage over the unfortunate comment made by Mr. Donald Trump, President of the United States of America, which remarks dishonor the celebrated American creed and respect for diversity and human dignity.”
They demanded “a retraction of the comment as well as an apology, not only to the Africans, but to all people of African descent around the globe”; and stated they are “extremely appalled at, and strongly condemns the outrageous, racist and xenophobic remarks….” Regardless of the criticism of the President, I know there are some Africans who agree with Mr. Trump that many African countries have become basket cases of corruption and incompetence for almost 60 years, and more!
In order to place Mr. Trump’s comments within a historical context and comparative assessment, let me note that great leaders and presidents are usually remembered for uplifting and inspiring words and evident action. For example, Martin Luther King, jnr I have a Dream speech; John F. Kennedy Ask not what your country can do for you; Fidel Castro on Democracy and Education; Mandela The struggle is my life; Azikiwe’s Renascent Africa; Winston Churchill on War and liberation of Europe; Odumegwu Ojukwu on Biafra’s Ahiara Declaration; Leopold Senghor on the African identity in Francophone Africa; Thomas Sankara on the Burkinabe; Ronald Reagan on America as the city on a hill; Mario Cuomo on America as a shining beacon; and hundreds of others.
“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly”, are the prudent and cautionary words of the late, great motivational speaker, Jim Rohn. He wrote those long before the public emergence and serial rudeness of Donald Trump at the village and city arenas!
Evidently, Donald Trump did not pay attention to those priceless pearls of wisdom. Without any doubt, these four years in the White House did not change — I meant to say elevate — the man’s mannerisms.
After all, it is said that the American presidency, like all presidencies in the world, changes its occupant. I think that Trump got worse in terms of temperament and articulating an inclusive vision of the beautiful tapestry, the mosaic of America. It would have been funny were it not so tragic and pitiful. Somehow, Trump forgot that the reckoning of history will come, so soon. Especially, beyond his control and manipulations.
He could have been a great president, taking cognizance of the challenges which this great country and the world face(d). Unfortunately, the man, giddily, squandered historic opportunities to Lead.
Trump choked on his own diet of lies, provincialism, racial division, greed, insularity, partisanship and infantile eruptions.
*Dr. Chido Nwangwu, the author of the January 2021 book, MLK, Mandela & Achebe: Power, Leadership and Identity, serves as Founder & Publisher of the first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper on the internet, USAfricaonline.com, and established USAfrica in 1992 in Houston. He is recipient of several public policy and journalism excellence honors, civic engagement and community empowerment awards and has appeared as an analyst on CNN and SKYnews. He served as an adviser on Africa business to Houston’s former Mayor Lee Brown. @Chido247