There have been many verbal reactions to United States President Donald Trump’s racist outburst last week, in which he used the “s” word to refer to the nations of Africa, the Caribbean and South America. We, however, submit that verbal responses, though indeed appropriate and necessary, are far from enough.
But before delving into the theme of this Editorial, let us make one important point. Poor President Trump: he has never understood the way the good Lord constructed human hands and fingers. God made all our fingers uneven and selected only one of them—the finger next to the thumb—to be the pointing finger. This is also called the index finger. Why? The word index comes from the Latin indico, which means “to point out”; it is also where the term “pointer” comes from.
That is how God made the fingers—so that everyone has to be extremely careful about pointing that index finger at anyone. Why? Because the minute you point it at anyone, all four of the other fingers come pointing back at you yourself! Woe to him or her who does not understand this divine construction of the hand.
Now just look at all the fingers from around the world that are pointing at poor President Trump—and not him only, but even his beloved father, the late Fred Trump. How many of us knew that in 1927, 90 years ago, the New York Times reported that Fred Trump, President Donald Trump’s father, was arrested at a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) rally in his hometown, Queens, New York, for failing to disperse? But it happened. And one writer said recently that that KKK rally in 1927 was very similar to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last August, when one of them, a fellow racist, drove a motor vehicle into a crowd protesting the white supremacist rally, killing one person. And what did President Trump have to say about that? He blamed “both sides” for that brutal murder. Most Americans expected that as President of the great USA, Trump would have issued an outright condemnation of the white supremacists, who caused someone’s death. But he did not, probably fearing that he would have betrayed his father, also a white supremacist.
So the fingers and their far-reaching tentacles are now pointing not at President Trump only, calling him “racist” and “white supremacist,” but also at his father, Fred Trump, finding out that he, too, was a white supremacist.
What now shall we say to African leaders? Three things.
First, be rigorously faithful to the oath you have taken or are about to take as leader of your country.
But just look at how conceitedly (arrogantly, bigheadedly), corruptly and cruelly so many of our leaders have behaved. Many, with total disregard for how the people feel, have openly engaged in nepotism, with dire and serious economic and financial consequences, which are the least of these leaders’ worries.
Look how so many leaders brutalize, kill and even massacre their own people, with total impunity until, of course, their day of reckoning comes, when they, too, face the consequences of their misrule — think of Idi Amin, Blaise Compaore, Samuel Doe, Charles Taylor, Yahya Jammeh, Robert Mugabe, Jacob Zuma and so many others.
And the consequences have been horrendous (dreadful, horrifying, nasty) and even tragic. Just remember all our African brothers and sisters, thousands of them, drowning in the Mediterranean—why? Because they have given up hope on their countries, thanks to the bad governance that have made them hopeless, and willing to try anything, including suffering and even death.
Some nations, like our own Liberia, rich in almost everything—gold, diamond, iron ore, millions of acres of fertile land, abundant rainfall—some say even petroleum, yet the people remain year after year, decade after decade, in filth, poverty, destitution, ignorance, sickness, suffering, despair and hopelessness. And our leaders couldn’t care less, even when all the international development indexes show our country, Africa’s oldest republic — 170 years — at the very bottom of the development ladder.
Second, our leaders should be committed to democracy, and this includes free, fair, transparent and accountable elections. Do not use your power as leader to manipulate anything; for my dears, you know today, but you do not know tomorrow.
And third, be totally committed to UPLIFTING your people. Try your hardest so that at the end of your tenure, you would have left your people rejoicing, not thanking God that you are going, or gone. Remember Shakespeare’s message, which he wrote and staged a whole play to get across: All’s Well that Ends Well.
When our leaders and people behave responsibly to ensure that our countries make steady and sustained progress, lifting the people from their poverty, ignorance, disease and backwardness and moving the countries forward toward self-reliance and modernity, just as Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame is doing, it will be hard for anyone to make remarks about us, so derogatory as has President Donald Trump.