Fidelity bank banner Bayelsa State banner
Are we really a shithole country?

By ’Fisayo Soyombo on 15/01/2018

Share on facebook Yahoo mail icon Gmail icon Share on Google+

Views: 1,120

•Fisayo Soyombo
•Fisayo Soyombo

Are we one of the countries Donald Trump had in mind when he wondered why US lawmakers were seeking protection for “all these people from shithole countries” – immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries?

To be clear, this question is not original to Nigeria. It has been appropriated – and I am thoroughly ashamed to admit this – from Botswana.

Following the latest of Trump’s trademark jibes at the Black race on Thursday, Botswana was the first African country to formally and openly reprimand the US, dispatching a query to the American ambassador, asking him to clarify if she was one of the countries classified by Trump as ‘shithole.’ Up till yesterday, only officials of two more African countries – Uganda and South Africa - had spoken out in strong terms against Trump. The rest, among which Nigeria is sadly languishing, have been mute, hiding behind the African Union's branding of Trump’s comment as “clearly racist.” The likelihood is high that South Africa and Uganda were emboldened by Botswana’s immediate response.

This isn’t the first time Botswana, a country of just over 2 million people, has recently stood up to America on behalf of Africa. In December, after majority of the United Nations voted against Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the US was so riled that it threatened to cut aid to the nations that voted against it. Before the vote, Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, had said Trump and the US were “taking this vote personally.” And, after, seeing it didn't go their way, Haley said Trump “would be watching which countries voted against the US”, and had given instructions that he should be given the list. While other African countries hid away in the aftermath of the threat, Botswana called Trump’s bluff, branding Haley’s utterances as “threatening and grossly inappropriate communication”, and affirming that it would “not be intimidated” in the exercise of its sovereign rights to vote. Botswana is certainly not a shit-hole country! 

From Botswana, Nigeria can learn a few lessons. Like Nigeria, this southern African country is natural resource-endowed. But unlike us, Botswana doesn’t just export its gemstones and precious metals, it mines them. So, while Nigeria mostly exports crude oil in a garbage-in-garbage-out manner, Botswana has a robust in-country mining of its gemstones; it generates revenue from the end products, such as diamond, rather than from the raw resource itself. 

Of the 50 large mines that account for 90 per cent of the world’s diamond supply, the largest –

the Orapa Diamond Mine – is in Botswana. A 50-50 partnership between the De Beers Company and the government of Botswana, Orapa (meaning ‘resting place for lions’) began operating almost five decades ago. Nigeria, meanwhile, can’t boast anything close to a 50-50 stake in the total refining of its oil. Big as the mining industry is, it is only 40 per cent of the Botswana economy. But oil is Nigeria's mainstay; without oil, our economy is gone. Botswana was a poor country at Independence in 1966, but decades of reinvestment of its resource in other sectors have seen it rise to a middle-income country. What it means is that Botswana, to a large extent, can remain in America’s bad books without batting an eyelid. That’s why it could summon the US ambassador. And that’s why Nigeria could not. 

That’s not all. Botswana has a unique understanding of foreign aid application that has, perhaps, eluded Nigeria’s foreign affairs ministry: Western aid never goes to a country unless the donor is confident of some sort of future payback. For all of Botswana’s economic independence, its HIV/AIDS baggage is scary. Nearly one-quarter of its adults are infected with HIV, placing a heavy burden on social services and the economy - and this is where the US has been most useful. Aid from the US and other foreign donors has been critical to the process of alleviating the epidemic via the strengthening of local organisations and the government with technical expertise and financial resources to support the county’s response. Is that big enough a reason for Botswana to adopt a slave-master relationship with the US? Maybe!

But Botswana understands that America’s relationship with the rest of Africa is symbiotic: its stranglehold on the continent only enjoys permanence because of interventions like aid and other sundry assistance. Without the aid, the US can no longer be US. So, Botswana understands that despite Trump’s threat to cut aid, the US cannot afford to throw away its diplomatic relationship with Africa. Botswana understands that the greatness of America today does not only exist in part due to centuries of slavery and exploitative trading with Africa, it also exists due to the intellect and energy of the finest collection of Africans seduced to the States by the promise of a better life. It is this knowledge that emboldens Botswana to demand respect from the US. Still, has Nigeria’s anonymity in the most diplomatic discourse of the year earned us shithole status?

Some Nigerians have answered ‘yes’: not just because of the silence but for the hunger, joblessness, hopelessness, insecurity, inequality, anger and frustration in the land. While these are, without doubt, our realities, it would take a monumental underestimation of Trump as a racist, and a similar misjudgment of the word shithole for anyone to reach that conclusion. By varied dictionary definitions, shithole relates to the physical dirt or shabbiness of a place; it is more about a place and its people than the conditions of living in that place. Trump’s shitholecomment is a reflection of his disdain for Africa as a place, and Africans as a people: it bears no relationship with the problems besetting the continent. Nigeria does not qualify as a shithole, regardless of the opinion of a million Trumps.

Nevertheless, if African leaders will wake up from their slumber, Trump’s indiscretion can play to our advantage. We must ignore the messenger. We must because, if Trump was a man of history, he would remember that as a son of an unskilled German who emigrated to the US at 16 and started working as a barber, he is the least qualified to disparage or slam the doors of the US on shit-hole migrants. That's why Trump, the messenger, must be ignored.

But we must never ignore the message. Never! And the hidden message in Trump's vitriol is that Africans will continue finding themselves at the wrong end of outbursts like this, until we're serious about catching up with the rest of the world by building countries where personal and professional fulfillment can be attained without necessarily migrating abroad. Till then, every now and then, garrulous leaders like Trump will bank on that loophole to lump us all together as descendants of a shithole.

•Soyombo, Editor of the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), tweets @fisayosoyombo

Source News Express

Posted 15/01/2018 8:08:42 PM

 

Share on facebook Yahoo mail icon Gmail icon Share on Google+


 

CLASSIFIED ADS

 

You may also like...
Reduced oil revenue: Nigeria moving in the right...

Benue crisis: IGP blames Governor Ortom

Children’s Parliament honours Akpabio, says no plan to...

Ambode woos foreign investors to Lagos

Police set to unseal Peace Corps Head Office...

Standoff with SSS: APC throws weight behind El-Rufai...

Kaduna attack: Police Commissioner clears Fulani herdsmen

Fayose urges support for all-inclusive efforts to rebuild...

Northern governors sack NNDC management

Africa Cup of Nations: Prepare for WAR against...

One worker dies every 15 seconds globally —...

Biafra: Court orders Abaribe, others to produce Nnamdi...

 

Latest News Angry APC youths attack Governor Obaseki’s convoy Buhari shuns protocol, treks 800 metres •He is fit and ready for 2019 — Presidency Apprehension as firm serves Adeleke University quit notice, threatens to demolish structures Police captures madman accused of killing Ekiti monarch Kidnapping: NMA threatens to withdraw medical services in Cross River HURIWA cautions Army on Operation Python Dance 3, asks Buhari to rejig Security Council More males than females register to vote SERAP to Ajimobi: Repair Ayefele’s Fresh FM building or face legal action US deports Nazi camp guard to Germany 170 prison inmates regain freedom in Kano Eid-el-Kabir: Follow Allah’s precepts, Turaki urges Nigerians Gov. Sani-bello stresses the need for peaceful coexistence •Urges youth to engage in useful ventures

 

Most Read NUDE PHOTO OF OMOTOLA JALADE-EKEINDE surfaces online (379,776 views) Nigerian female sex addict opens up, says ‘I like it with both men and women’ (367,784 views) Shameless Genevieve Nnaji exposes breasts in public (297,636 views) Finally named: The full list of friends of Nigerian female sex addict who prowled Facebook (242,759 views) OLUMBA OLUMBA OBU (the one who called himself God) IS DEAD (223,902 views) Igbo scholar disgraces Femi Fani-Kayode •Demolishes claims on Igbo/Yoruba history with facts and figures (217,736 views) Breaking News: POPULAR REVEREND CONVERTS TO ISLAM in Kaduna (Nigeria) (193,484 views) OBJ’s son reported dead in Lagos plane crash •Names of more victims emerge (175,614 views) THE FINAL DISGRACE: Igbo scholar unleashes more facts about Igbo/Yoruba history, finishes off Femi Fani-Kayode with second article (160,129 views) My wasted years in Olumba Olumba Obu’s Evil Brotherhood (159,126 views) Lagos plane crash: Journalist releases victims’ names (153,382 views) Gunmen kill ASP, 2 other police officers in vain bid to kidnap Rivers PDP chieftain (143,588 views)

 

Categories Advertorials (3) African Press Organisation (81) Art & Literature (56) Business & Economy (3,472) Business Verdict (48) Columnists (912) Complaints & Requests (95) Enterprise & Opportunities (207) Entertainment (530) Features (642) Global Business Monitor (298) International (2,286) Interview (162) Live Commentary (28) Love Matters (137) News (38,200) Opinion (1,064) Pidgin (11) Politics (6,121) Religion (837) Sports (1,655) Stock Watch (33) AMA & Al Jazeera Global Update

 

CBN banner

Firstmobile banner

 

 

NEWS EXPRESS TV

Yinka Ayefele's Music House Demolished

 

APO Group Partner

 

 

CLASSIFIED ADS

GOCOP Accredited Member

GOCOP Accredited member

 

 

Africa Media Agency and Al Jazeera

Advertisement