The vulgar remarks made by United States President Donald Trump on January 11 not only suggest a racist streak but also underscore how little he knows about the world around him. During a working session on the topic of immigration in the US,Trump reportedly described African nations as holes made in the ground for the purpose of depositing excrement. To counter this offensive comment, here are seven facts about the Continent that Trump knows nothing about; this knowledge could help to enlighten him, although the veil of prejudice can be quite difficult to pierce:
Technology & Innovation
Africa has become a hotbed of innovation in the tech sector, with hundreds of startups creating cutting-edge apps and tech advancements that are improving millions of lives. From an app that is helping farmers to widen their customer reach, to the development of solutions to harness solar power to expand access to electricity in remote areas, to countless programs and incubators that are supporting tech education to the Continent’s youth, to an app that helps recycle unused medication for those unable to afford their prescriptions, the accomplishments of Africa’s tech sector have grown by leaps and bounds.
Looking back at history, the body of knowledge cultivated by ancient Egyptian civilization, which flourished in Northern Africa, inspired Greek thinkers. Pythagoras was impressed not only by the early math and geometry teachings of the Egyptians, but also by their reasoning, and he always told his students that he learned from the Egyptians. Aristotle, Plato and Socrates all studied the teachings of Pythagoras.
While American tech firms such as Apple, Google and PayPal continue to fight against Visa and MasterCard over an electronic wallet standard, Kenyans have been making payments, purchases and remittances with their smartphones and without the involvement of banks since 2007. By the year 2015, the M-Pesa system of Kenya had been adopted by Eastern European nations such as Albania and Romania.
While it is undisputed that the United States is the birthplace of blues, jazz, rock, and salsa, it is important to note that these popular musical genres were all inspired by African rhythms. Acclaimed film director Martin Scorsese has always supported the idea that the music of the late Ali Farka Touré, a traditionalist from Mali, proves that slaves from that African region brought the blues to America. Congo Square in New Orleans is where jazz was born while rhythm and blues is recognized as an African American fusion style that would later inspire Elvis Presley, the king of rock, to take up music. Salsa originated in New York City as a fusion of Afro Caribbean rhythms, mostly from Cuba, and jazz.
The heaviest coffee consumption in the world takes place in the US, but this agricultural commodity was first harvested in Ethiopia, where Yemeni traders noticed consumption of raw beans before coming up with the idea of roasting and reaching export agreements before the 15th century.
While the Roman Empire introduced the concept of revenue collection in Africa, the Kingdom of Ghana expanded taxation to impose tariffs on goods coming in and out of their jurisdiction, something that Arab traders did not particularly like but ended up adopting anyway by the 4th century.
The name of the most popular Linux desktop distribution in the world comes from the Bantu language of southern Africa, and it was introduced globally by Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu after the end of apartheid. Ubuntu is a philosophical term that underscores awareness of humanity; in essence, it means that we need to be good people so that others can be good in return. Trump could certainly use ubuntu in his life.