Donald Trump made his comments while answering the remarks of a Tunisian journalist during a two-day NATO summit held earlier this week in Brussels.
The Tunisian journalist reportedly expressed gratitude toward U.S. involvement in maintaining security and political stability in many hot spots on the African continent, especially in North Africa, where ISIS and Al Qaeda-affiliated insurgent groups have been wreaking havoc over the years.
In response to the journalist’s comments, President Trump said that the U.S. has a long history of intervening in places that need help.
“We want peace for Africa,” Trump said, going on to add that the continent is mired in conflicts and wars that no one in the global community can possibly understand.
“Africa right now has got problems that like few people would even understand,” Trump remarked, explaining that his conviction that “through strength, you can get peace” and that his number one goal is to build a “tremendous military” to bring peace in Africa and all over the world.
“If you saw some of the things that I see through intelligence—what’s going on in Africa—it is so sad, so vicious, and so violent. We want peace for Africa. We want peace all over the world.”
But for all of Trump’s apparent commitment to global peace, his “sad” and “vicious” Africa rhetoric immediately stirred controversies in some African circles, with journalists and Twitter users slamming the American president’s condescending and patronizing tone.
For these commentators, Trump’s comments reflect stereotyped discourse about Africa as a continent of war, famine, and all sort of problems. Such stereotypes fail to capture the diversity that exists across the continent’s many regions and countries, critics complained.
“There are 54 countries in Africa! So which Africa is this has got ‘problems like few people would understand?’” one user asked.
Others pointed out the hypocrisy in the U.S.’s obsession with saving others with problems in distant countries while veiling its own problems and unresolved social issues. “If Trump thinks Africa is vicious and violent, he should see an American school when a mass murderer is on rampage,” one Twitter user commented.