The ripples generated by President Donald Trump’s alleged disparaging shithole comments have continued, with 78 former United States Ambassadors who served in Africa writing the president to remind him about the continent’s great exploits and potential.
“Africa is a continent of great human talent and rich diversity, as well as extraordinary beauty and almost unparalleled natural resources,” the former envoys said in a joint statement delivered at the White House Tuesday.
“It is also a continent with deep historical ties with the United States.”
The statement came days after Trump reportedly derided Africa, Haiti and El Salvador in a meeting about immigration policy in the White House.
Trump reportedly singled out Haiti, El Salvador and parts of Africa as “shithole countries” during the January 11 meeting, according to the U.S. media.
But the president denied ever describing any race as coming from “shithole countries” in a January 12 tweet.
Several African countries, including Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa, have protested the alleged comments by Trump and summoned the U.S. top diplomats in their countries.
The AllAfrica Media published the reaction of the 78 former American top diplomats to the controversy Wednesday morning.
“As American ambassadors abroad, we have seen Africa’s complex and rich cultures, awe-inspiring resilience, and breathtaking generosity and compassion.
“Even as some nations have faced challenges, we have counted among our contacts dynamic entrepreneurs, gifted artists, committed activists, passionate conservationists, and brilliant educators,” the former ambassadors, who served in 48 different countries on the continent, including Nigeria, said.
“We learned of novel solutions to complex problems, helped American companies find partners critical to their success, and counted on African military and intelligence officials who often assumed real risks to help achieve outcomes critical to our shared security.
“We know that respectful engagement with these countries is a vital part of protecting our own national interests. The United States of America is safer, healthier, more prosperous, and better equipped to solve problems that confront all of humanity when we work with, listen to, and learn from our African partners.
“We also know that the entire world is richer because of the contributions of Africans, including the many Americans of African descent.
“It was one of the greatest honors of our lives to represent the United States of America abroad. It was also a privilege to live in and learn from the diverse and spectacular countries of Africa,” they added.
The former diplomats urged Trump to reevaluate his perception of Africa and its people going forward.
“We hope that you will reassess your views on Africa and its citizens, and recognise the important contributions Africans and African Americans have made and continue to make to our country, our history, and the enduring bonds that will always link Africa and the United States,” they said.