Former US ambassadors to 48 African countries have written an open letter to President Donald Trump expressing concern about his reported dismissal of African nations as “shithole” countries. By PETER FABRICIUS.
The former envoys, including four who represented Washington in Pretoria, and three former Assistant Secretaries of State for Africa, have urged Trump to “reassess” his views on Africa and to recognise the importance to the US of its partnerships with most of the 54 African nations.
This included “brilliant entrepreneurs” who had been critical to the success of American companies and 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.”
The four former US ambassadors to South Africa who signed the letter are Patrick Gaspard, who left the post a year ago, his immediate predecessor Donald Gips, Princeton Lyman who served in Pretoria from 1992 to 1995 and Edward Perkins, who was posted here from 1986 to 1989.
The three former Assistant Secretaries of State for Africa are Johnnie Carson, Linda Thomas-Greenfield and Herman Cohen.
“Africa is a continent of great human talent and rich diversity, as well as extraordinary beauty and almost unparalleled natural resources. It is also a continent with deep historical ties with the United States,” the letter reads.
“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.
“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.”
Not only the US but the entire world was richer because of the contributions of Africans, including the Americans of African descent, the former ambassadors said.
“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.” DM
See the full letter here:
Photo: Protesters demonstrate against the World Economic Forum (WEF) and US president Donald Trump, in Bern, Switzerland, 13 January 2018. The WEF will take place from January 23 till January 26 in Davos. EPA-EFE/CHRISTIAN MERZ