Africans reacted angrily Friday after Donald Trump reportedly referred to their nations as “shithole countries”, with many lashing the US president for racism and ignorance.
Social media users across the continent posted images of modern skylines and beautiful nature from their countries with the ironic hashtag “shithole.”
Others heaped scorn on a president who last year caused widespread sniggering when he twice referred to Namibia as “Nambia”.
“I’m a proud son of the shining continent called Africa. My heritage is deeply rooted in my Kenyan roots. Africa is NO #shithole Mr. Trump,” tweeted record-holding Kenyan runner Bernard Lagat, who became a US citizen in 2004.
He was referring to comments reportedly made by Trump during a meeting Thursday with lawmakers about immigration reform, demanding to know why the United States should accept citizens from “shithole countries”, including Haiti, El Salvador and the entire African continent.
Trump then suggested the United States should welcome immigrants from places like Norway, whose prime minister met with Trump on Wednesday, according to the reports.
Trump, on Friday, implied that he did not use the controversial words — “this was not the language used,” he said in a tweet.
The United Nations slammed Trump’s reported remarks as “shocking and shameful” and “racist”.
“You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes’ whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome,” Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN human rights office, told reporters in Geneva.
Many reminded the US of its historic role in the continent’s woes.
“President Trump, One day, I’ll take you to a ‘shithole’ country called Ghana,” wrote Ghanaian Edmond Prime Sarpong on Facebook.
“First stop would be Osu Castle, Elmina Castle, and the over 40 Forts that detained about 30 million slaves, beaten and shipped out like sardine cans and then I will tell you the history of Africa and why people like you made that a ‘shithole’ continent.”
Botswanan Foreign Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi wrote on Twitter that the remarks had struck a “nasty blow” to diplomatic relations with the US.
Prominent Kenyan commentator Patrick Gathara, told AFP that this was nothing new from a “racist and ignorant” administration, nor from the West at large.
“What is even more insulting is the hypocrisy of everyone condemning Trump, and he should be condemned, without examining their own offensive language and conduct,” he said.
“This is no different from what Hollywood and Western media have been saying about Africa for decades. We have consistently been portrayed as shitty people from shitty countries,” he said.
Some acknowledged problems in their countries, but blamed this on their poor leaders as well as western nations such as the US.
“Please don’t confuse the #shithole leaders we Africans elect with our beautiful continent… Our motherland is the most blessed continent that has been raped by imperialists in collaboration with our shitty misleaders for generations,” wrote Kenyan activist Boniface Mwangi on Twitter.
In South Africa, the ruling party declared “ours is not a shithole country” and described Trump as “extremely offensive”.
“It is not as if the United States doesn’t have difficulties. There are millions of unemployed people in the US, millions of people who don’t have health care services or access to education and we would not deign to make comments as derogatory as that,” said Jessie Duarte, the deputy secretary general of the African National Congress (ANC).
‘It’s our shithole’
Nigerians however did not hold back, with many on Twitter saying their country was a “shithole”, but that it was “our shithole” to criticise.
“I don’t wish to be denied a visa to the US, although with the rate of mass shootings, I don’t see why anyone would want to travel there in the first place. That being said, objectively, Nigeria is a shithole country,” wrote user Bruce Bateman.
Even war-torn South Sudan weighed in, with President Salva Kiir’s spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny slamming the comments as “outrageous”.
However one Juba resident Jenny Jore, told AFP that Trump’s remarks were “on point”.
“It is thanks to our African leaders that we are insulted that way,” she said.
Trump’s latest comments also provided ample fodder for talkshow hosts.
South African comedian Trevor Noah, star of “The Daily Show”, described himself as an offended citizen of “South Shithole” and also called Trump out for racism, especially for saying he preferred immigrants from Norway.
“He didn’t just name a white country, he named the whitest — so white they wear moon-screen,” he said.