With the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, fears were being openly expressed in Africa that the continent would now slide into the backyard of US international policy.
Trump’s flamboyant and aggressive statements against third world countries were perceived as an indication of his racist attitude. This perception was deepened by the fact that Trump took over from Barack Obama – a man with deep roots in Kenya. But Trump is now showing signs that Africa may actually be better off with his administration.
Africa’s Insecurity Problems
Natural calamities and bad governance aside, Africa’s big problem is terrorism, especially in Somalia and Nigeria. In Somalia, the Al Shabaab militants have created insecurity in many surrounding countries in Eastern Africa while the Boko Haram menace has spread terror over large parts of Western Africa. Unfortunately, the Obama administration showed little interest in Africa’s security issues. African countries, especially Kenya and Nigeria, were left alone to lead the battle against the bandit groups. And even when Boko Haram kidnapped hundreds of Nigerian school girls in a swoop, the US government of Obama remained studiously inactive. It is an inexcusable and terrible failing of the Obama administration. Now Trump is showing concern and that will certainly soften African attitude towards him.
Trump and African Presidents
So far he has reached out to three African presidents, starting with Nigerian Muhammadu Buhari, the unfortunate home of Boko Haram and South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma. And now he has reached out to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the country most affected by Somali Al-Shabaab militants.
And in these discussions, insecurity has been among the key topics. Regarding the telephone discussion with the Kenyan President, the White House said, “President Trump expressed appreciation for Kenya’s significant contributions to the African Union Mission in Somalia and recognized Kenyan troops’ sacrifices in the fight against Al-Shabaab.”
It is the hope of Africa that these contacts will lead to more active and determined US involvement in the war against terrorists in the continent.