If you tell a man he is a bastard he does not rush to the nearest hospital to pay for a DNA test so as to find out if you are telling the truth. He recognizes an insult which not even science can call some other name. This explains why even if he does go for a DNA test and the Doctor looks at the result and says “well, actually from this result you are indeed a bastard,” we will all accuse such Doctor of not being professional. But a Doctor is not a journalist or a diplomat or a political leader, yet he is unprofessional for “saying the bitter truth”, but to some Nigerians who have taken the ridicule of our Nation as a trade upon which they feed, President Donald Trump is free to refer to African countries and Haiti as shitholes because “he is saying the bitter truth”.
Trump has been made a hero truth-spiller from when he was alleged to have said Nigerians, if they come to America, will not return back to their huts, to when he was accused of referring to African countries as shitholes. What Mr. Trump’s praise singers did not tell us is how come a brave spiller of “truth” spills truth and denies it afterward – every time.
It seems clear that in the business of bashing country, so as to sound like an activist over the internet, common sense has no place. How else does one explain how an event which speaks to the dysfunction of the American system is seen as a point for America and a point against Nigeria?
Just last month, the United States made a decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The UN sought to vote on it while America argued that it’s an internal issue for which a UN vote will be ingratitude to America. The US went ahead to threaten that it will be taking names of those who will ‘dishonour’ America’s sovereignty by voting against its local decision. While countries like Norway voted against the US’ decision, Haiti did not only not vote against it, they did not vote at all; which was the strongest statement in support of the US. The United States in return threw a party celebrating these countries, published their names and promised better relations while threatening countries, which stood against them, of repercussions. Weeks after this, the same US sold Nigeria military hardware we have been begging to buy despite our vote against it, calls Haiti a shithole country and argues that more people from Norway be given US immigration privilege. We saw a 242 years old country confused about its foreign policy once every week, but this was somehow a point for them to those who are too absent minded to realize that America’s movie-dressed weaknesses are now out in the open.
There is the counterfeit logic that once America is “better” than Nigeria then Nigeria is a shithole. That Alaska, one out of 50 States in America, is bigger than Nigeria does not matter. That the US is 184 years older than Nigeria whereas it took Dubai just 17 years to go from dust to one of the most developed cities in the world, also does not matter. Those who parade the ignorant premise that America is altogether better than Nigeria will scream poverty and insecurity.
The highest estimate puts Nigerians living in poverty at 100 million. Yet despite a 184 years advantage and a land mass ten times bigger and far more natural resources than the average person is informed of, about half of this number of persons live in poverty in the United States and 1 in every 5 children is without food, despite being the richest country in the world, it is the most unequal. There is a robbery every 2 minutes in the US yet I have lived over 3 decades in Nigeria and have only come face to face with armed robbers once my entire life despite growing up in the Niger Delta which those who sell our country’s image for a plate of food would characterize to the world as a war zone.
We do not find the space to speak about how Structural Adjustment Programmes were forced on countries that were just out of Colonisation; a programme which ensured that these Nations continue to import rather than produce, as a way of getting them to be continuously dependent. People are not of lesser value than you because you are treacherous and they are not.
While Nigeria fought apartheid in South Africa and was restoring peace to Liberia and Sierra Leone, America was supporting oppressive regimes in Haiti and El Salvador; countries which Mr. Trump now calls shitholes. Former President Barrack Obama owned up to similar atrocities in Argentina; a more decent President who is however responsible for a Libya that is almost no longer a country, a situation which led to the recent slave sale crisis, a mess even Mr. Trump acknowledges from his crib. Same way Obama recognized former President George Bush Jnr.’s lie about weapons of mass destruction for which the US attacked Iraq; destabilized the region and giving the world both ISIS, which is now a talking point and the crisis in Syria on the long run.
NGOs and media houses – which quickly transform to NGOs for the sake of international aides – seem to make a lot of money out of telling the world that Africa is the worse place after Hellfire. Added to this, there is the pressure of social media which has made the struggle for relevance and constant desire for approval a general public health situation as against the celebrity and mid-life crisis we use to associate it with. People just want to be seen talking and of course it is easier to scream shithole, useless country, zoo, condemned Nation than to generate a small piece of suggestion as solution to any problem.
In closing, I know a young man passionate about Nigeria. His passion started with there is no hope, goes through Nigeria is not working because our leaders are evil, and ends in there is no hope. So I asked him what he would do differently if he becomes a leader and to my surprise, the musician KCEE did better when he said if elected Governor his solution to power problem will be to “employ people who will fix the light”. My young man had no idea, no thoughts, and zero suggestions. He has since changed for the better but the man that he was is the man that many who shout shithole all over the internet are and I fear they will live and die in that emptiness unless we rescue them from an inferiority complex which stifles any form of sense.
America is not heaven, Nigeria is not hell. Call your house a shithole, not our country.
Eseoghene Al-Faruq Ohwojeheri
is Editor-In-Chief of ETN24.com. An online media house dedicated to explaining News and fighting fake News.