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Africans react furiously, and with humor, to Trump's remarks about their countries

Robyn Dixon and Siobhan O'Grady, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

JOHANNESBURG -- The world reacted with shock, anger and a tinge of humor Friday over President Donald Trump's "shithole countries" remarks, with governments, civic and political organizations, and individuals labeling the president's comments irresponsible and racist.

Africans across the continent felt especially aggrieved by Trump's crude remarks, but some using the hashtag #shithole with beautiful photos of sunsets, elephants grazing on plains and other pretty images. Others were not so lighthearted.

Botswana's government was the first on the continent to condemn Trump's statements, referring to them as "highly irresponsible, reprehensible and racist."

During a meeting with members of Congress on Thursday to discuss immigration, Trump reportedly became irate and questioned why the U.S. was allowing people from El Salvador, Haiti and Africa to enter the country.

"What do we want Haitians here for?" Trump asked. "Why do we want all these people from Africa here? Why do we want all these people from shithole countries?"

He then added: "We should have people from places like Norway."

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Botswana summoned the American ambassador to express its displeasure over the remarks and to inquire as to whether Botswana was a "shithole country."

"The government of Botswana is wondering why President Trump must use this descriptor and derogatory word when talking about countries with whom the U.S. has had cordial and mutually beneficial relations for so many years."

Botswana called on the African Union and regional leadership bodies in Africa to condemn Trump over his comments.

Since taking office, Trump has barely mentioned Africa. The main action he has taken affecting the continent is to sharply reduce foreign aid. His sudden characterization of the entire continent shocked many -- and angered others who saw it as part of a stubborn Western narrative characterizing Africa as a country and not a continent of 54 highly varied nations.


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