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The tears of Africa

Jan 16,2018
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Many countries in Africa have straight borders, which were decided by the Berlin Conference of 1884. The conference convened to resolve the territorial dispute over the Congo River Basin, and it finalized the division of the vast former colonies from the west coast to the east in Africa. Before the diplomats from 14 countries, including the United Kingdom, France and Germany, was a map of Africa, half of which was empty. They had little information about Africa aside from the coast of the Mediterranean, which had been a part of European history, or the coastal areas that were known to Europe since the Age of Exploration.

When they drew lines arbitrarily on the paper, the actual lands began to suffer. Native tribes that had long been one community were divided, and heterogeneous or hostile cultures were mixed.

Western civilization is largely responsible for the tragedy that Africa experiences today, such as poverty, corruption and conflicts. The United States considered Liberia, founded by freed slaves, as a front base for Africa policy and also participated in the conference.

Africa is once again crying tears of anger and humiliation because of U.S. President Donald Trump. At a policy meeting on immigration at the White House, he insulted African and some Caribbean countries by asking, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” While Korean media generally toned down the nuance in the translation, “shithole” is quite a nasty word. Media around the world agonized over how best to translate this word.

The African Union, which represents 55 countries on the African continent, said that Trump’s remark “truly flies in the face of accepted behavior and practice” and “This is even more hurtful given the historical reality of just how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves.” Then came a report that Trump made a racially discriminatory remark to a Korean-American woman working for an intelligence agency, which has also infuriated Koreans.

Trump’s racist attitude goes back to the times before he entered politics. In his 20s, when he was in the apartment leasing business, he was sued for not accepting lease applications from African-Americans. In 1989, he ran an advertisement calling for the death penalty for the black and Hispanic defendants charged with the rape of a white woman. While they were found innocent, he never apologized.

As Trump was soon due for a health checkup, a group of over 70 mental health professionals requested that his physician include a neurological health evaluation. I thought it may have been a protest by those who oppose Trump, but I am now worried that it may not be the case.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 15, Page 31

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

LEE HYUN-SANG