It’s Trump himself who is a shithole

I am not vulgar by nature or inclination, but readers, can you allow me – hopefully, just for once – to cite inappropriate and offensive terms to put across a point without mincing words like a BBC panellist asked for the same exception and exemption last week to utter an unmentionable word before a global television audience: Shithole.

By CONWAY TUTANI

For those not in the know – and there many in Zimbabwe as they use the word liberally and publicly may be because English is a second language to them – “shit” is a vulgar word for human waste.

Well, in the past days, we have had the spectacle of some Zimbabweans – too many of them for comfort – falling all over each other in praising United States President Donald Trump for labelling African States “shithole countries”. These fellow black Zimbabweans took this as an opportunity to vent their resentment against their own leaders.

Unfortunately, arguments can be popular even when they are not sound, intelligent, rational and applicable as seen in the tide of approval from – of all people – these black Zimbabweans that met Trump’s racist demagoguery. Demagogues like Trump – and Adolf Hitler and many others before him – gain popularity by pandering to or exciting the passions and prejudices of the audience.

But then, being passionate against corruption and repression at home is one thing; and backing racist statements by Trump is another. Trump did not disparage African countries out of concern for the ordinary African suffering under repressive and corrupt leadership, but out of racism against Africans because of their skin colour lacking whiteness.

So, Africans in general were not “suitably” impressed, but outraged by Trump’s crude insult. People have the presence of mind that while they are appalled by the corruption and repression they see today, they won’t necessarily hanker for colonial Rhodesia and brush under the carpet the twin evils of racism and repression from those days. In the same way, many opposition supporters are refusing to go along with some of their leaders’ outright condemnation of the military intervention that led to the ouster of former President Robert Mugabe last year because these people know that something had to give to catalyse political change and socio-economic improvement.

To project the military as totally wrong is misreading of the situation which could cost the opposition votes. So, the sooner they drop that line of attack on the new government, the better for them. Zimbabweans could have been initially sceptical about military intervention, but that scepticism was far outweighed by the anger against Mugabe. Africans can be angry with their governments, but they can be even angrier against Trump, who is a throwback to colonial racism and reincarnation of America as the self-appointed “policeman of the world”. Self-respecting Africans will never be complicit in their debasement by anyone, Trump included.

Wrote African-American author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates last year long before Trump’s “shithole” expletive: “(Trump’s) political career began in advocacy of birtherism, that modern recasting of the old American precept that black people are not fit to be citizens of the country they built.”

Birtherism is a movement in the US that doubts or denies that former President Barack Obama is a natural-born US citizen, thus implying that he was ineligible to be President. But being white is not an achievement. If being white was an achievement, an African-American of Kenyan parentage – Obama – wouldn’t have beaten white candidates in both primary and presidential elections, not just once, but twice. It’s increasingly becoming clear that replacing Obama is not enough for this racist as Trump has made the destruction of Obama’s legacy the foundation of his own, as he moves to dismantle Obama’s major policy successes. And it’s not lost on people that racism is at play here not only because Obama was the first black US President, but also because his father came from Kenya, a “shithole” country.

Continued Coates: “But long before birtherism, Trump had made his worldview clear. He fought to keep blacks out of his buildings, according to the US government

. . . and railed against ‘lazy’ black employees. ‘Black guys counting my money! I hate it!’ Trump was once quoted as saying.”
It’s also incongruous and most ironic that among those who are supporting Trump are womankind – some of them feminists – despite the fact that Trump has a track record of objectifying women. Trump is on TV footage categorising women as sex objects – so, how more can it be at odds with what feminists stand for? And particularly so in the case of African women who have shouldered the twin burden of both sexism and racism?

Such people who fell for Trump’s demagoguery despite being highly educated and intelligent individuals can be justifiably labelled reflex critics or knee-jerk critics of anything and everything African.

The same usual suspects totally opposed the setting-up of the Aids Levy and National Social Security Authority just because this was being pushed by their political adversaries, not on merit or demerit grounds. Some of this is out of gut reaction, which, in its rawest form, is defined as “a primitive response to external stimuli before reason modulates one’s behaviour”. So, even educated people are not immune to gut reaction. People did not stop to listen to the import of what Trump said: a blanket categorisation and characterisation of blacks – each and every black – as lazy, incompetent and inferior.

No wonder one of Zimbabwe’s best and brightest, Hopewell Chin’ono, said: “I found it astounding and tragic that some of our brothers and sisters living in the US, Canada and the rest of the Western world were the first to defend Trump, something that is mind-boggling.”

This touches on colonial mentality and the house nigger syndrome, the mental slavery or psychosis seen among those blacks who are always trying to ingratiate themselves with their neo-conservative white “masters” by distancing themselves from everything black and cheering everything European and Western. Without being anti-European and anti-Western – which is as bad as Trump’s anti-African racism – we need to cure ourselves of Eurocentrism – that tendency to interpret the world in terms of European or Anglo-American values and experiences with an implied belief, either consciously or subconsciously, in the superiority of everything European and Western.

That said, Trump’s sanity is being questioned even in the US itself. Some of his behaviour is so strange, unpredictable, odd and bizarre that even his most ardent apologists are having a hard time explaining what makes him tick and have described him as “a troubled human being” with “obvious personal problems”. Speaking recently to an audience of farmers, Trump said: “Oh, are you happy you voted for me! You are so lucky that I gave you that privilege.” Can it get more egocentric and more egomaniacal than that?

No wonder the Urban Dictionary, an online dictionary with definitions written by all and sundry, has quickly and fittingly come up with its own meaning of “shithole” as “Trump’s mouth, often a place from whence great amounts of shit spews”.

Indeed, if anything, it’s Trump himself who is a shithole. That, readers, is the inescapable conclusion.

lConway Nkumbuzo Tutani is a Harare-based columnist. Email: nkumbuzo@gmail.com

32 Comments

  1. BRAVO !! Brilliantly written.
    All you write is what sometimes makes me ashamed of being white.
    Thank you.

  2. The fact “SHITHOLE” is true about African countries but the source is not qualified!! You can not teach patriotism by foisting African values,philosophies etc on peoples suffering from the African values and philosophies etc!

    1. True that @Shrewd contriver; had the same observation been made by one of our own respected black critics or community leaders it would have been hailed as an honest wake-up call to the African powers that be.For instance, our own celebrated writer, the late Dambudzo Marechera, long reached the same conclusion decades ago.

      1. tmutekwe, you mean the deeply psychologically scarred and self-destructive Dambudzo Marechera whose bitterness with everyone made him morbidly negative?

  3. Fair views !! however, reference to NSSA and Aids levy in terms of critics were more to do with the absents of Governance measures to protect employees contributions. In fact Nssa came to life through the advocacy of ZCTU as a project supported by the ILO. Those who were against it were from business and the rich elite who included people like Nyambirai who lodged a constitutional application against NSSA.Trump’s madness is no different from Robert Mugabe who since 2000 would publicly preach hate speech and lives were lost because of use of inflammatory language.

  4. Once again, this is one of those pieces that is so insightful. It opens the eyes of those Africans and African-Americans who are ensconced in the world of white lenses. Which reminds me of a former work colleague who insisted on sending her children to a white speaking school so that they would speak like whites! Yes, it is good to learn English as a language of international transaction, but not to the extent of wanting your child to mimick everything white. God have mercy on us as there are even some schools, read private, who tout their environment as ‘English speaking’ in our free Zimbabwe.

  5. Ohh!
    English is not synonymous with being white! its now a cross cutting language!

  6. I used to think Jonathan Moyo and Charles Charamba had a pretty hard time defending all Mugabe Mugabe’s failings like “He’s gone to Singapore for an routine eye checkup” or”the carpet at the airport was mislaid” or ” he wasn’t sleeping he was just blinking his eyes” but listening to Sarah Sanders, Trump’s spokesperson tying to defend the indefensible about her boss makes the Zimbabwe spin doctors look like a couple of first graders!!

  7. They are going too far. Vajaira stereki. They dehumanised us through the slave trade and slavery and again through colonialism. Now they want to humiliate us through racism! The black man built America too. He built the UK as well via slavery and colonialism. Hakuna iyoyo.

  8. Missed this kind of reportage…Well done!

  9. Stop being defensive and look straight in the mirror of the warts and all. Why are we giving the racists reasons of being racial by our ineptitude way of doing business? today the Americans respect the Chinese because they changed their casual way of doing business. Respect is earned not demanded. Change ways and the world will start to grudgingly respect us. As it stands we will remain what we are whether said or unsaid: Shitholes.

    1. NGINDO, being assertive is not being defensive. And any self-respecting person does not need the respect of anyone, including Americans and Chinese, to function.

  10. conway this articule is ur opinion n ur democratic write l dont give a damn bout trump handidye kumba kwake n besides its his opinion n democratic write its called freedom of speech n for the record what the army did was wqrong period.if the army was for the people why didnt they call for elections rather thgey said its a zanu pf thing so conway l agree with trump #Shithole

    1. g40, it’s indeed everyone’s democratic RIGHT (not WRITE, as you put it) to agree and disagree with Trump or Tutani or whoever whether the army was wrong or not. By the way, many people are of the view that the army was right as seen in the anti-Mugabe marches on 18 November, 2017 when even whites joined in, and in the celebrations on November 21, 2017, when hundreds of thousands celebrated after Mugabe resigned. So always keep in mind that many Zimbabweans are happy about the situation whether you like it or not. That you call yourself g40 shows you are angry and bitter after your faction lost to Team Lacoste.

  11. I absolutely do not agree with your statement that, “…they won’t necessarily hanker for colonial Rhodesia and brush under the carpet the twin evils of racism and repression from those days”. How do you know people are not hankering for the good old days when everything worked like clockwork? Are you saying people prefer to drink contaminated Mugabe water? Ditto sleeping in queues, Ditto not getting paid for decades? You cannot be serious. Smith was superlative.
    Let me tell you what i witnessed in the year 2000 at Fife Avenue Shopping Centre.
    One Saturday morning, in the year 2000, I witnessed one of the most amazing scenes I will ever see in my life – I drove to Fife Avenue Shopping centre to buy some items in a Hardware shop. I went in OK supermarket nearby first and when I got inside there was commotion – I soon realised that Ian Smith was in the supermarket and was mobbed by shoppers and shop workers. Everything came to a standstill. People outside thought there was a fight inside only to see it was people cheering Ian Smith. I could not believe what I was seeing. When he went outside back to his red VW Golf car still he was being mobbed and cheered by almost everyone at Fife Avenue. People were shouting you were dead right Mr Smith. All spontaneous. He just smiled and never said anything and drove away. At the time cellphones were just being introduced but with no camera as we have now. In fact, if there was a video camera around that would have been a real scoop. The scene at Fife Avenue Shopping centre that day were astonishing. Jaw-dropping stuff. If Ian Smith’s government was as our politicians say then he should have been attacked by the crowd but instead the crowd spontaneously mobbed and cheered Ian Smith like you will never see in your life. This was a very busy Saturday morning and people came rushing from all directions when they heard it was Ian Smith all cheering. He was alone without any bodyguards. This goes to show you how good he was and how people miss Rhodesia.

    1. MUSONA, I suppose you are even angrier with the white Rhodesians who marched in soildarity and celebrated with the army.

      1. @norman – Initially people were happy to have Mugabe removed but it is the same army which has propped Mugabe’s tyranny for almost 4 decades. Will the junta allow anyone else to govern if they lose power? The jury is still out on that one. Highly unlikely. It is the same junta Zimbabwe has had since 1980 but now under a new facade, Mnangagwa.

    2. MUSONA, I suppose you are even angrier with the white Rhodesian shitholes who marched in solidarity and celebrated with the army.

    3. Zimbabwean’s have come to believe in and accept ‘better’ devils. Mugabe is viewed as better that Smith, just as people are viewing Mnangagwa as better that Mugabe. Notwithstanding that, people genuinely are dismayed (and reasonably so) by the African leaders and conditions that we are for many parts directly responsible for. But that doesn’t mean that We should accept being denigrated as has been done by Trump or anyone else.

      Perhaps many of us do not realise that Africans are not liked by these White supremacists and have never felt the oppression of the ‘whites’. Yes, we should and must do better and prove the world wrong. But we can certainly do without the derogation that’s shoved down our ears and their systems of oppression under all sorts of guises.

  12. When old people spending the whole day at a bank queuing for a few coins of their hard earned money that sure sounds like so shithole daily shit happening in some shithole country which has a shithole system and a shithole government.

  13. In this sense “Shithole” is not describing human waste so spare yourself! And neither is describing someone an asshole describing that shit passes through them… Here this…. “shithole” for lack of a better term is Trumps way of describing what our dear African leaders have turned our countries into. So when we talk of Africa what are some of the characteristics that come to our minds, undeveloped, extreme corruption, poverty, war, rich mineral base, diseases, poor etc. This name calling by Trump should actually be a wake up call for us or rather African leaders to improve on the foregoing. If your smart, well organized, going somewhere and innovative and resourceful a white man will respect you but here we are not looking for respect from a white man we are looking for respect from our fellow likeminded and absolute good leadership that signifies good values.

  14. I do not know what this Tutani guy is talking about but Sh*thole is slang commonly used in the States by both uneducated blacks and whites and Trump falls into this class. The reference by Trump is derived from what there read and perceive and actions by the majority of the African Leaders who unfortunately have stood above the rest to be champions of corruption, dictatorship, oppression ,and so on and this is the bad picture in most minds of whites and unfortunately it cannot be changed as the majority of African gvts still practice thisto the extreme. So up until that perception is removed from the Westerners there will continue to view Africans as Sh*t stuff.

  15. Quite a well-written “opinion” piece!! No pun intended. Tutani is a very good writer and he expresses his “opinion” very well. He also seems to have the advantage of being given enough space in the Newsday to express such “opinion”. May I challenge Tutani to research on why the African countries, and they are definitely not “shithole” countries, tend to produce such “shit” leaders the likes of which Archbishop Desmond Tutu described as “caricatures of African leaders”? Who, in Africa, produces such leaders? Or are African state leaders corrupted outside their respective countries only to come to Africa and all behave like “shit” producers who spew “shit” all over their respective countries? Please educate me!!!!

    1. TIRIVANHU TOSE, was Mandela a shithole leader? Is Khama a shithole leader? Was Chissano a shithole leader? Was Obasanjo a shithole leader? Was Mkapa a shithole leader? Was Kaunda a shithole leader? Was Pohamba a shithole leader? Was Kikwete a shithole leader? Is Magufuli a shithole leader? Was John Mills a shithole leader? There is your free education.

  16. Kuwiriranakwakanakakugarakunzwanana Garanewakohamandishe

    Comment…Black people (black is chacoal. White people (white snow). Kune vanhu vanenge TSITO here? Uye kune vanhu vanenge MAZAYA ECHANDO here? Vane maziso, havaone. Veduwe, vanhuwe!

  17. With the $375 bank balance for a teacher at monthend being equivalent to about 200 dollars in real terms i surely agree with Mucharipa. How do u defend your self that you are not living in a shithole.

  18. Trump has failed on all grounds. His behaviour defies the rules of modern civilisation and there is no way he can claim to have a developed mind.

  19. Kuwiriranakwakanakakugarakunzwanana Garanewakohamandishe

    Uyo anotaura zvinonhuwa ndiye ane muromo unenge ichi. Sezvo chakasikwirwa kungoburitsa zvinhonhuwa pachisikwa chose chaJehovah chinofamba. Zvisineyi muromo wadya seyi zvinonhuwirira kana kunaka. Anoshandisa ichocho kutaura pane kushandisa muromo. Afro-Americans vanourawa sehumhutu munyika umu nguva zvinji nezvikonzero zvevanhu ivava. Jehovah rangayi chisikwa chenyu ichi chizivewo kugara nevamwe panyika zvakanaka, uye zvine hunhu. Hunhu ndomunhu. BROWN or PINK, HUNHU. Akuna munhu
    weBLACK. Uye akuna munhu weWHITE. Kutsvinya chete. Uye, ngatisati mumwe munhu asina hunhu akatitsinyira, isutozvitsinyirazve. Chii chaanacho chisina mumwe murume wemuAfrica. Just because he is PINK and we are BROWN? Humbavha hungani hurikuitwa kunyika dzinozviti dzakapfuma, humhondi? Sadam vakamuuraya pedzezvo, aaa, takaita mistake. Dayi aive wavo vaizvitambira izvozvo
    pasina kudeuka ropawo reauraya. Inga ndizvo zvavakauraira mutungamiri weEjipita wani. Nekuti akanga arambira vana vemunyika make vakanga vauraya vavo mundenge. Asazviite NGIROZI kana munin’na waJesu. MUROMO WAKE NDO ICHOCHO.

  20. Good analysis Tutani! Incidentally, as foul-mouthed Trump takes his ‘lunacy’ into over overdrive, it coincides with his first anniversary in office. My simple analysis of his first year in office persuades me, without fear of contradiction, to say that American is at stake for being headed by a mental case. He serves better as a ‘TV acting President’ than a real President. He denies that he is a racist but he proved to be one during his campaigns by claiming that Obama is not an American. Consequently he has tried to undermine Obama’s policies and agreements with foreign nations. Recently, he foolishly pulled out of a climate meeting only to watch his country attacked by hurricanes and fires causing untold damage. Astonishingly, his priorities include building a wall to bar Mexicans from immigrating to America, something that remains a pipedream and ‘wiping North Korea, a security risk, off the surface of the earth’ only to claim later that he has special interest with the Korea leader. After struggling to make friends with some Arab countries, he blundered by recognizing Jerusalem the capital of Israel where 129 nations voted against it while only 9 voted for it at the UN. After giving top American generals 30 days to find a solution fo the Syrian crisis, nothing has materialised . He also dismantled Iran’s nuclear deal with America and European nations as it was negotiated by Obama and later tried to seek renegotiation. This doublespeaking lunatic has nothing promising about Africa and I wonder whether he knows where thw continent lies on the World map. What a global disaster?

  21. I think people read too many articles in Facebook.
    Don’t we all understand what propaganda is?
    Africa is not a shit hole. It is our home.
    Many would be forgiven for thinking it is a shit hole, however it is no right for a president to say this publicly. Question 1: did trump make an address about shitholes or was it simply that he mentioned it in a small group at a meeting.
    Question 2 : when people don’t have access to malaria treatment and die in a modern city. Or when the water makes you sick… Is that a shithole

    1. Or when gunmen indiscriminately shoot primary school kids as happens regularly in the United States, doesn’t that make the US a shithole country?

  22. Very good article. I will be facing some of these issues as well..

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