US president Donald Trump hosted African leaders to a luncheon on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. Trump took the opportunity to congratulate the leaders on the progress the continent has made as an investment hub for foreign companies.
Trump said, “I have so many friends going to your countries trying to get rich. I congratulate you. They are spending a lot of money. But it does, it has tremendous business potential.” He may not have realized but his words were in bad taste, in view of the history of the scramble and partition of Africa.
He continued to say that Africa represents a wide variety of markets and that for American firms, it had become an indispensable business destination. In this statement Trump alludes to Africa as a business destination for Westerners. The US president made no pretence of saying that Western companies are not concerned with empowering Africans. Rather, they are in the continent to enrich themselves at the expense of Africans.
As he continued to tout Africa as a goldmine for white businessmen, Trump mentioned that six of the fastest growing economies are from the continent. It is not clear if this was ad-libbed or not, but according to the World Bank, just three of the fastest growing economies are from Africa (Ethiopia, Tanzania and Egypt).
In his speech Trump referred to a country called Nambia more than once; as he mentioned the countries whose leaders he was hosting and at another instance when he said the country (Nambia) has made progress in its health care system. Trump seemed not to know that there is no such country in Africa, we have Namibia and Zambia. It is not clear which of the two he was referring to.
These mistakes and insensitive allusions point out to a leader who has very, if any, limited understanding of the African continent. This is unlike his predecessor Barack Obama who proved to possess astute discernment of global affairs.