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Oftentimes, many Africans cringe whenever “Trump” and their continent are mentioned together. President Donald Trump of the United States has made no bones about his lack of interest in Africa. The continent is full of what he has described as “shit-hole countries”. Religion-speaking, Trump has also on several occasions subtly blasted African religious fanatics and Religious leaders, tagging them as ‘Misguided priorities’.
President Donald Trump does not have any particular ties with the Christen community in Nigeria or any other African country despite what the African Christian community believes. Trump’s world view is consistent with the virulent white ethnic nationalism which seems to arouse his most passionate supporters.
Nigeria, with an estimated population of 200 million people, has two major religions: Christianity and Islam. Christians and Muslims make up 50 per cent and 48 per cent of the Nigerian population respectively. Surveys have shown that Nigerian Christians also “have a more favourable opinion of the US (69 per cent) than the Muslims do (54 per cent).” But despite these facts, Christians in Nigeria are systematically being decimated and massacred by their Islamic counterparts on a daily basis. This systematic targeting of Christians stems from waves of Islamic radicalisation in the country with the aim of creating a fully Islamic Nigeria. All efforts to get Trump’s attention to help putting an end to the incessant killings, have been deliberately ignored by him.
Possibly unknown to Donald Trump, when he was a candidate for president, he had near-religious followership among many Christian Igbos and other separatists from Southeastern Nigeria who were in favour of their region seceding from the rest of the country as a new Republic of Biafra.
Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the Supreme Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, wrote to Trump after his victory in the United States’ Presidential election stating that the victory placed on Trump a ‘historic and moral burden, to liberate the enslaved nations in Africa.’ Nnamdi Kanu and his followers fiercely believe that Biafra is trapped in the “artificial” country of Nigeria created by British colonisers. IPOB and many other pro-Biafrans hoped fervently that a Trump presidency would be sympathetic towards the Biafran cause and this hope was mainly based on comments the billionaire property developer made in relation to the British vote in last year’s referendum to leave the European Union – Brexit. Trump tweeted after the vote:
Self-determination is the sacred right of all free people’s, and the people of the UK have exercised that right for all the world to see.
Pro-Biafrans clung to this as evidence that he would support a referendum for “Biafrexit” from Nigeria.
Some of the separatists used the hashtag #BiafraForTrump to celebrate the Republican’s victory, which they thought had given them renewed hope in their bid to exit from Nigeria. Nnamdi Kanu’s wife told Newsweek magazine: ‘With Trump coming into power, even though not everyone is happy about it, we are (happy) because hopefully, Trump will uphold the self-determination rights of the indigenous people of Biafra.’ Other agendas like the plans to ban Muslims from certain countries from visiting the US also endeared him to pro-Biafrans, who view Nigeria and its current president Muhammadu Buhari as an Islamic state that kills and oppresses Biafran Christians.
Trump’s action the following months shocked them into believing otherwise. He had made it clear that he had no interest in the Biafran cause when he ignored the killing by Nigerian police of 11 pro-Biafrans celebrating his inauguration on the 20th of January in the southern city of Port Harcourt. Although his Twitter account was bombarded with tweets and pictures of the shooting, there was not a word from Trump. This was hardly surprising since he had shown little interest in sub-Saharan Africa during his campaign.
Mr Trump took a year and a half to appoint an assistant secretary of state for African affairs and even longer to find an ambassador to South Africa, one of the top diplomatic posts south of the Sahara. That appointee is known mockingly, even among Republicans, as “the handbag lady”, since her expertise is in fashion, not diplomacy (she has a country-club friendship with Mr Trump).
Trump also fired his previous secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, hours after Tillerson ended a multi-country Africa visit earlier this year in an effort to mend badly frayed ties.
In three years he has received only two of his African counterparts in the White House (Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari and Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta). Recently he has sharply restricted immigration from Nigeria and started talks about a free-trade deal with Kenya. Little wonder that no one seems to know what the American policy towards Africa actually is. Most African countries are still deeply divided along ethnic and religious lines, and this has played into many national and regional engagements. Marginalisation, unequal political appointments, and ethnic and religious tensions are still brewing division. These are problems that Donald Trump has carefully avoided
The earlier the Christian masses in Africa realise they are playing a lone game in the quest to garner President Donald Trump’s attention, the better it would be for them. President Donald Trump is particularly bent on a second term bid and is willing to play to the gallery for the meantime to win votes to himself. Implementing his massive Christian support would win him an advantage and he is bent on adding that to his political arsenal.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK