The criticism that greeted the pronouncements of the American big lord, Donald Trump, last week, was damning. The social media space and other sundry news outlets were cooing with some vehemently corrosive and acidic comments and dissociation with the new appellation given to our dear continent. As was reported by NBC news, WASHINGTON — “President Donald Trump referred to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries” during a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators at the White House, a Democratic aide briefed on Thursday’s meeting told NBC News.
Trump’s comments were first reported by The Washington Post, which said the nations referred to by Trump also included El Salvador.
The U.N. human rights office said the comments, if confirmed, were “shocking and shameful” and “racist,” while Haiti’s foreign minister summoned the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Robin Diallo for clarification.
Two sources briefed on the conversation say that during the portion of the conversation about Haiti — which came at the top of the exchange that led to the “shithole” comment — the president questioned why Haitians should be given specific consideration.
“Why do we need more Haitians, take them out,” he said, according to sources. Someone else in the room responded: “Because if you do, it will be obvious why.”
The White House issued a statement that did not deny the remarks, however Trump tweeted an apparent denial early Friday: “The language used by me at the … meeting was tough, but this was not the language used.”
It came as senators huddled in the Oval Office with the president to discuss a path forward on an immigration deal. Trump questioned why the United States would want people from nations such as Haiti while he was being briefed on changes to the visa lottery system.
According to the aide, when the group came to discussing immigration from Africa, Trump asked why America would want immigrants from “all these shithole countries” and that the U.S. should have more people coming in from places like Norway.
A source familiar with the meeting told NBC News the president was particularly frustrated during discussions about the visa lottery system — a program Trump has railed against repeatedly in recent months. Another White House source explained the language Trump used as his way of trying to emphasize his support for a merit-based immigration system.
According to the Times, Trump also targeted Nigerian immigrants during that meeting, complaining that once they came the United States they would never “go back to their huts.” The White House vigorously denied the claims in the story at the time.”
It should be neatly and clinically noted that this was not the first time that some disparaging and desultory comments have seeped through from the White House, against Africa, in recent times. At the umpteen time, Nigeria, the metaphorical giant of Africa has been on the beam light of the world. Happenings and insidious events, both nefarious and positive have defined the social, political and economic landscape of the nation. Our sociopolitical and religious narrative has taken a paradigm shift to include some unwholesome act of man’s inhumanity to fellow man, but then, this has been the realities of our country in current dispensation.
If the ferment, vigorous fervency, reckless dislike, agility and hate with which Trump’s rhetoric was faced, was channeled toward those whose business it is to provide us with meaningful life, but have failed, then, we can be said to be making progress. The American president has been called upon to apologize to the entire potpourri of Africa, for branding Nigeria “a shithole”.
Words are powerful. Considering the linguistic semantic nuances of those codes, and different interpretative predicament of the utterances, and from whom they emanated from, Nigerians cannot but feel insulted and derided. Ironically however, none of this anti-Trumpians could give any inkling however megre as to why Trump should not Christine Nigeria a “shithole”. These whole brouhaha over Trump’s freedom of speech shows how legendary our cognitive dissonance can resonate on matters that touch on our being, as a people. (as we have refused to understand it)
I am not in doubt or quandary, whatsoever, that there are people in Nigeria and abroad who are on the same page with Donald Trump on this regard. A prepondrous number of many Trump’s fan will wield and authoritatively articulate reasons and concrete evidence to support Nigeria retaining the appellation, “shithole country”. Happenings in Nigeria in recent seasons are clear testaments for anyone to passionately acquiesce with the “shitholic status of Africa (Nigeria). Comments and counter comments have been flying in high speed via every communication medium that humans have access to. YouTube is buzzing with videos coming from different parts of Africa, made by some disgruntled patriots who are saintly rejecting their new name.
“Nigeria is a shithole country”. Is this a myth, a hoax or another fallacy manufactured by some group of devils to stir uproar in the humid sedentary air of the African land map? For those who think that Nigeria is not a “shithole”, you are as right as hell. Why? Because it is the renowned critic and literary enigma, Ngugi wa Thiong’O of the Kenyan breed, who wrote in the preface of his literary text The Trial of Dedan Kimathi that, “the prosperity, civilization, development and wealth of the western hemisphere – America and Europe was built on the blood of Africans”. So, they were enriched by us. Hence, our disgust with the name “shithole country”.
Having pauperized the continent since centuries agone, the American billionaire president can only refer to it as a shithole. Is there any other nomenclature better than this?. Well, before you think that our woes are caused by America and Europe; don’t forget that we are politically independent (?). Nigeria got hers seamlessly on October 1st, 1960. Since that time up until now, it’s audible to the deaf, and visible to the blind what has been the state of affairs of the country and her dwellers. When the standard of living of an average Nigerian is examined in the scale of life, if you had ever told the truth in your life before, you will agree that the shithole stuff befits us all. Our shithole status is bourgeoisie in all ramifications!
How do you exonerate a county where power supply is epileptic from a shithole status? A country where a government will give scraggy looking goats to pupils for coming first in their respective classes at the end of a school term, cannot run away from taking the name “shithole”. In a country where young girls are empowered with heady hungry rams cannot go scot free of the righteous status of “shithole country”. A place where workers are not paid salaries for months cannot be far from a shithole corner. While the challenges facing Nigeria is not the exclusive preserve e of our undoing, you would genuinely agree with me that a country where the justice system is manipulated by the big fries; where the price of food is hiked at will; where the poor who are in high quantity are languishing in domesticated penury; where unemployment is become our second name; where those who are legitimately asking for what is theirs are termed criminals; where the educational system, road and other infrastructures, are at a sorry state, cannot shy away from accepting the inglorious name “shithole”.
Ladies and gentlemen, the very first step to a meaningful change is acceptance. Let’s for once accept our status, though bequeathed to us by a foreigner-president. These things are obvious. The utmost priority of any government anywhere in the universe is the sacred solemn proclamation “to protect the lives and property of its citizens”. How do we now explain the porous and diffused insecurity of lives and property in the land today? How would you justify the New Year gift of death given to our brothers and sisters by the Fulani herdsmen and night marauders? How would you balance the injustices and marginalization going on in the country? What lore would you prescribe to quell the tensions in the air both religious, political, ideologically and socially? Election is at the corridor. Politicians have started hub-knobbing from one pole to another. Nigerians are hungry. The hope of an average Nigerian graduate getting a job is darker than coal tar. Some have been wandering the streets in search of jobs that do not exist. The None Academic Staff of Universities (NASU) is on strike over what is legitimately theirs to enjoy. And you say we are nowhere near “shithole”? Are things working the they should in Nigeria? Say the truth if you can. You can do better analysis than I have done. Has Donald Trump not said the truth for once? Why the attack on truth?
For tears of sorrows are seen every day
Men’s heats are failing them
Mothers are crying for their daughters
Elders are languishing for their young lords
People taking up arms at the slightest provocation
Our television screens are full of bloody
Horrors of damning forbes
The pages of our newspapers are become
Spectacles of gory sight to behold
Our radio stations give heart retching
News of fainting ululation
Our streets are become theatres of absurdity
As man’s inhumanness escalates.
North, south, east and west, our crest
Falleth off the breast
Governments are contending
The clergy men are praying
The academics are analyzing, and philosophers
Are navigating the possible way out;
Social and economic purveyors are dissecting
The matter to the throes. All are seeking the one
Denominator to our collective pursuit and being— peace
If only you can take me a brother, I will take you
A sister. If only you can take me a confidant,
I will take you a companion. If only you can
Take me a friend; I will take you a fellow.
If only you will take me an acquaintance,
I, your relative shall be. If only you will
Take me a neighbour, I will take you a
Partner, and we will take others as humans
Who knows, we may not be a shithole county, tomorrow.
Amaechi Emmanuel .O., is a Student of English, University of Lagos. A United Nations Award Winner; he writes essays, short stories, poems, and most importantly, he is interested in political, social, civil leadership, youths and girl-child discourses.
You can reach him on: