US President Donald Trump made his much anticipated first appearance at the United Nations this week, which culminated in a 40+ minute speech where he threatened to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea and referred to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as ‘Rocket Man.’ Following this speech on Tuesday, Trump then hosted a luncheon on Wednesday where he entertained the leaders of most every major African nation. Not surprisingly, Trump again put his foot in his mouth when he spoke to the African leaders by showing his lack of knowledge on African geography and also seemingly portraying Africa as a place where all of his friends go to get rich.
Africa: Where the Rich Go to Get Richer
During his address on Wednesday, President Trump attempted to congratulate the African leaders in attendance for their continued economic growth. However, he could have picked a much more appropriate way of getting his congratulations across. After expounding upon Africa’s ‘tremendous business potential,’ the president then informed those in attendance that he has ‘so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich.’ After making this audacious statement, Trump then paused—apparently waiting for either laughter or applause. Unfortunately for him, neither were coming, and in fact, his comments were met with total silence from the room. This really isn’t all that surprising since the idea of rich Americans trying to get richer off the backs of Africa sounds a lot like how American and European countries spent several centuries filling their pockets through the exploitation of African natural resources and labor.
Of course, it could just be that Trump simply misspoke. After all, it did seem that he was attempting to merely point out the huge economic promise that Africa is now showing. In fact, he followed up his original comments by pointing out that the Continent is now home to six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies and that many American businesses now see Africa as a place that they have to invest in.
The Great Country of ‘Nambia’
Trump’s mention of how his friends are going to Africa to get rich wasn’t the only gaffe that he made during the luncheon. Later on in his speech, he referred to how the health care system in ‘Nambia’ is almost self-sufficient. The only problem is that the country of Nambia doesn’t exist. At first, people weren’t quite sure whether the president was trying to refer to Gambia, Zambia or Namibia. However, the official White House transcript of his speech seems to show that he was in fact referring to Namibia and simply misspoke the country’s name.
Either way, the gaffe only served to further show Trump’s lack of knowledge about Africa, and in many ways, highlighted how he truly feels about the Continent. Despite having been in office for nearly nine months, Trump has yet to appoint US ambassadors to the vast majority of African nations. The president recalled all of former President Obama’s ambassadors as soon as he took office, yet for some reason, he has still not filled most of the positions. As a result, most African nations have no official means of conducting diplomatic relations with the United States, which seems to show just how important Trump actually views the Continent.
Based on his words and actions, it seems that Trump is continuing the long-held Western view that Africa is only there to be exploited by the United States and other Western countries. While it might be a great place for people to get rich in Trump’s opinion, apparently it isn’t worthwhile enough for the president to take the time to actually learn the names of Africa’s countries or appoint ambassadors so that they can actually conduct official business with his government.