Trump Overlooks Africa’s Diversity, Successes
It is official: President Donald J. Trump has vowed to bring peace to Africa! Indeed, he said he will end Africa’s “vicious and violent conflicts” while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the NATO summit, characterizing all 54 countries on the continent as a sum of their problems devoid of any successes or progress.
Africa as a continent has had its fair share of conflicts since time immemorial, some internally brewed and some exported from outside its borders. But these conflicts should not be used as a recipe to boil all the 54 countries in one pot as suggested by the president.
Some people have argued that President Trump lacks geopolitical knowledge when addressing matters outside of the United States, but while acknowledging that this may be true, I take a second approach at addressing the real and perceived conflicts in Africa.
Africa has unique sets of problems given its history and diversity of various cultures and sub-cultures. What the 54 countries are not though is a large sum of the continent’s problems. The preconceived beliefs in the West that the above is true have at times clouded well-intentioned people who seek to make a difference.
I must point out that what ails most African countries stems from within with the failed attempts at democratic systems, rampant corruption at all levels of government, and poorly planned and executed elections. These problems fuel tribal and cultural tensions which eventually grow into unmanageable national civil strifes.
However, when the dust settles In Africa, there are many success stories. For instance, we can now see a growing trend towards judicial reforms and inclusivity. These reforms have started bearing fruit on the continent in terms of curbing abuse of power directed at the governed and sanctioned by the state. In Kenya, the presidential election was recently annulled due to irregularities, a sign that the respect for the rule of law is positively impacting this East African nation.
Africa, as a continent and individual nations, has a chance to craft and sustain democratic systems that function without poaching Western systems and ideologies that do not conform to their unique situations. The partnership between the United States and individual African nations continues to thrive in trade, economic development and national security. It’s a sign that mutual respect and understanding is the best approach.