Monday 1 March 2021
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Why the West continues to brand* Africa

Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”- US President Donald Trump


This one sentence went viral across the globe as the US President branded at least 55 African countries including Haiti and El Salvador as shitholes. Thereby inferring that immigrants from said countries are incompetent. To that end, a White House statement supported that “certain Washington policies choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people”.
It is interesting to note the US President was asking a question. Hence, whilst it is right to motivate how his choice of words was ignorant to say the least, this perspective aims to discuss how the West has always and will most likely continue to brand Africa. This is because had the question been “why are we having all these people from developing countries/ Global South come here; it is possible that no one in that meeting would have batted an eyelid.


Memory politics and history qualify that Western imperialism was the shovel used to dig into especially the African continent. As such labelling African countries as, defecating places is evidence that the US and most Western Nations that continue to brand the continent are ignorant of Western guilt stemming from the imperial era.  It is the absence of that acknowledgement that best explains why Trump questions African immigration. If anything, the US President just informed the whole world where his country excretes bad policy decisions. Since in the same line of questioning he offers that immigrants from fellow Western country; Norway, are what his country needs instead. A clear indication that US bilateral decisions with Norway are anything but shitty compared to US-African relations. This is because a contrasting glance at the education systems as well as public policy and administration set-ups of most African countries replicate poor version of Western systems. This requires a complete overhaul of the Western imposed education systems that indoctrinates young Africans into thinking everything Western is always better. It is equally difficult to turn a blind eye to the reality that African nations are indeed in very deep poverty-stricken holes. It is also challenging to not look at the deplorable living conditions of people below the poverty line and not think “shithole” is a fitting word to describe these inhumane conditions.


The call for global condemnation of Trump’s comments issued by the African Union (ECOSOCC) is commendable as it echoes similar sentiments expressed by the United Nations that the comments were disrespectful and racist. However, diplomacy aside, condemnation without active intervention from especially Africans to address the issues facing the continent and her country, will fade away into the growing archives of Trump’s brutal honesty that is often not given the level of seriousness required. It is akin to his tweeter outburst that he has a “bigger and more powerful button” in response to the North Korean President Kim Jong Un boasting about having a nuclear button on his desk. Dismayingly, the media reacted to it as another comical exchange between the two but what can be inferred is that he just informed the world and North Korea on the superiority of the nuclear weapon arsenal of the USA. Hence whilst there is a need to train Trump on basic diplomacy and American History (and most ignorant Western folks), Africa must equally rid itself of ineffective and corrupt leaders, its high dependency on foreign aid and loose worldviews that paint the West as superior.  As such, a core prerogative for African leaders and citizens alike should be the intentional and strategic bridging of economic and social gaps that act as push factors for legal and illegal immigration to Western countries. This is because, it is Africans and Africans alone, who will take back branding rights of the continent from the West.

Jason Chesnut is a social activist and Lutheran pastor from the US who holds a BA degree in political science as well as a Masters of Divinity. He strongly argues that Western ignorance of the history of colonialism and its effects serve as a hindrance for African growth and development. Whilst Rakkel Andreas is a political Analyst and writer with dual M.A.’s in European and International Studies as well as Development and Governance from France and Germany respectively. She motivates that poor leadership on the continent qualifies (not excuses) Trump’s shithole comment on African immigrants

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