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Friday, August 7, 2020

What Does “Donald Trump” Teach Us about Ourselves As Africans?

Columns What Does "Donald Trump" Teach Us about Ourselves As Africans?

By Michael Chisala

When I first read the story alleging that 2016 US Presidential candidate Donald Trump had called blacks (especially Africans) as “lazy fools only good at eating, lovemaking and thuggery”, I knew it could not possibly be true. I forgot about it but kept seeing it being posted all over WhatsApp and Zambian social media. So being the skeptic that I am, I went on Google and in 2 minutes flat, I confirmed my thoughts by simply running a search for “Donald Trump Africa controversy”.

Sure enough, I did not find a single American website that carried such a story. If Trump did indeed insult black Americans as was quoted (see below), can you imagine the firestorm that would erupt in America in the media within just an hour? Can you imagine what Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, Reverend Al Sharpton and other black leaders and activists in America would do to him? That would be the end of his political career and it would be on CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, Sky News, etc. Have any of you see such a story on these media houses?

The fake story originated on a Kenyan news website called Politica (politics.co.ke) and has been copied and pasted on other African sites and numerous Facebook pages without a second thought. But one website (snopes.com) investigated and of course found the story to be fake. Trump in fact has not visited Indianapolis in October, where he is alleged to have uttered those racist words.

Yet probably millions of Africans have accepted this story as true and are probably cursing and insulting Trump and the white race. Ironically, it just goes to prove the fake Trump quotation. Africans are apparently so lazy that they cannot even bother to do a Google search to verify the story. Or even just spend one minute to think and realize that the story cannot be true.

I am reminded of the old joke about how you hide information from a black man by putting it in a book. It seems
you can also hide information from the black man on his own smart phone and computer just by posting it on a website since he won’t bother to go read it. He would rather read stupid gossip made up by someone else.

And this is not even the first (or last) time. Years ago, there was an email circulating which claimed that Tommy Hillfiger is a racist who told Oprah Winfrey on her “Oprah Winfrey Show” that if he knew black people would wear his clothes, he would never have started his clothing company. Winfrey chased him from her show according to the story.

I did a quick 5 minute search and found a story on the Oprah Winfrey Show website refuting the story. In fact, Hillfiger had never been interviewed before by Winfrey and he went to meet her so that they could refute the story together and she explained everything on her show. On the Tommy Hillfiger website, I saw pictures of black models which is inconsistent with a racist. And no clothing company can survive a week in America if its owner utters racist words. The rumour was apparently traced to some American University in the mid 1990s and it spread for years and years, being shared by Africans too lazy to do a little bit of thinking (or reading).

Back in the 1980s when I was young, there was another story going around in Zambia about a boxer nicknamed “Use Your Left” who supposedly had a left punch so lethal that his left hand had to be tied behind his back when he fought Muhammad Ali. The story said Ali kept hitting him in the ring and then the wife to the boxer (whom I can only assume was Joe Frazier) shouted from the audience “Use your left!” and the boxer pulled hard and snapped the rope tying his hand and threw a punch at Ali who ducked and the boxer hit into a pole at the corner of the ring and died. (There are no poles that can be hit from inside the ring).

All this reveals that there is something wrong with us Africans that we can believe false things so easily and I still have not figured out why. Whatever it is, I am alarmed because it may explain a lot of tragic things that have happened in Africa such as civil wars, genocide and ethnic cleansing.

For example, in most of Africa, we easily embraced Communism and evil dictatorships that lasted for decades and destroyed our nations. To this day, many Zimbabweans apparently believe what Robert Mugabe tells them as the cause of the economic collapse of the country (ie Western sanctions). Belatedly, some of his own people have rejected his story and have recently began to quietly ask white farmers to return to Zimbabwe after they failed to manage the huge commercial farms they were given and became very poor.

In Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda our first president has gotten away with destroying the Zambian economy because he sold the story that it was low copper prices and high oil prices that wrecked the economy in the 1970s. I do not recall any Zambian journalist challenging him in an interview on this claim by doing some simple research to discover for example that the civil service expanded several times after independence and that when the economy was bad, KK opted to borrow money to keep civil servants and waste money on parastatals and liberation wars in other countries instead of cutting such spending and privatizing parastatals.

At the risk of courting controversy, it can be argued that even Africans embracing Islam, Christianity and other foreign religions to the abandonment of centuries old African religions is part of this same naiveté and lack of critical thinking. Hence the joke about how the white man brought a bible, taught the African Christianity and asked to pray. After the prayer and opening their eyes, the black man had the bible and the white man had the land.

Some commentators have even gone as far as saying that Christianity was just a ploy by whites to colonize gullible Africans by making them docile. They supposedly did this by setting up mission schools which taught African children the white man’s knowledge but also taught them Christianity and made them less resistant to the white man’s rule when they grew up.

Whilst I do not subscribe to such conspiracy theories, they may contain a small element of truth in that when certain events occur (such as Africans embracing wholesale what they are taught by foreigners), the situation can be used to further certain schemes such as control of natural resources. But I digress.

Other pundits lament the wholesale embracing of Western culture in terms of dressing, language, accents, mannerisms and even food such that if you go to the big shopping malls, you will be hard pressed to find a meal of nshima or even tute (cassava). Instead you will find chicken and chips, pizza, shawarmas, salads, subs, etc.

In the bars, pubs and taverns, you won’t find the local Zambian brews such as katata and Seven Days but rather Heineken, Castle and Spirits. Zambians quickly embraced these foreign drinks for decades before someone finally thought of packaging Chibuku and even then, it is looked down upon as the poor man’s drink. Could all this be another manifestation of our gullibility?

A good example of the Zambian and African culture of gullibility is how we believe almost any story about witchcraft and other claims about the paranormal. Recently, a church was burnt down in Zambia because of a mere rumour that a pastor had turned into a snake. Residents of one shanty compound in Lusaka a few years ago killed a strange creature they thought was a product of witchcraft and yet it was a simple Pangolin.

Whatever the theories, explanations and causes, all I know is that there is something wrong with us when we can so easily believe any claims thrown at us without exercising some healthy skepticism. It makes it easy for unscrupulous people to manipulate us. No wonder the Nigerian 419 scams have worked so well in Africa. No wonder corrupt politicians find it easy to lie and deceive Africans into voting for them. This issue is not as harmless as some may think.

My advice to all Africans is that next time you see an outlandish story, take time to think a little about it before you forward it. I think that Philosophy should be introduced as a compulsory subject in Secondary schools.

My 2 cents.

Michael Chishala is a Zambian blogger who can be reached on michael [at] zambia [dot] co [dot] zm.

P/S – There is of course some truth to what “Donald Trump” said about Africans. I am glad that more Africans are beginning to see that we cannot keep blaming whites for our self-inflicted problems. I suspect that few Africans below 25 really buy the Western Imperialism story. I may not go as far as supporting colonization, but I would instead make an outlandish proposal that we hire a team of foreigners to form Cabinet and manage Zambia for 30 years until we become a developed country and there is a full transfer of good governance skills to us.


“African Americans are very lazy. The best they can do is gallivanting around ghettoes, lamenting how they are discriminated. These are the people America doesn’t need. They are the enemies of progress. Look at African countries like Kenya for instance, those people are stealing from their own government and go to invest the money in foreign countries. From the government to opposition, they only qualify to be used as a case study whenever bad examples are required. How do you trust even those who have ran away to hide here at the United States hiding behind education?

“I hear they abuse me in their blogs but I don’t care because even the internet they are using is ours and we can decide to switch it off from this side. These are people who import everything including matchsticks. In my opinion, most of these African countries ought to be recolonized again for another 100 years because they know nothing about leadership and self governance.I promise to make America great again by restoring our dignity that we have since lost through Obama. The more reason why I still believe that he, and his Kenyan brothers and sisters should be deported back to Kenya to make America safe.”


  1. What a protracted, meandering and darting argument this is – arguments within arguments! Why stir up so many wasp nests. Just when someone is itching to take a position on the Trump nonsense, there you go rubbing your audience’s sensitivities with the Kaunda-Mugabe never-ending debate. Learn to stay the course and steer clear of other people’s heroes. And never lose your audience. By the way, use your left lies pointed to Sony Liston, not the Smoking Joe Frazer, MHSRIP).

    • Chalo Nkhanza, I used KK and RM to make the point about gullibility. FYI, most of Joe Frazier’s knockouts were done using his left hand. Check the Wikipedia article about Frazier.

    • Chishala, how can you rely on wikepedia for your facts on the solid left hand? Us we used to watch live fights and Sony Liston was said to have cement in his left hand because it was very vicious and destructive, Ali was just good at dodging it.
      Coming to the main matter at hand, do not gramble about our inadequacies as Africans; we have not done that badly its only a few isolated cases of wayward greed forcing people to steal from public coffers. But again this is due to weaker systems of control that are in place this side of the globe, it took similar practices in the developed world that forced them to come up with effective ways of countering corruption and the like, and fortunately enough we are slowly getting there also. Nonetheless, as africans we are proud of our heritage and…

  2. very thought provoking article, but I am sure most believers in Christianity may get very angry about the religious issue and yet research has actually shown that religion to some very good extent has caused many countries to lag behind in development because people believe that they should build riches in ‘heaven’ and not on earth! with the exception of USA who have a good majority also believing in the existence of God but their God wants them to live comfortable lives here and now!!!

  3. Started well but ended in the gutter..complete r u b b i s h. Your Mr Chishala, it is shameful that an educated person like yourself, I believe are just plain LAZY to do research and find out why Africa is where it is rather than fall the easy way way let us make white rule us for 30 years. You have just spoiled the test in my mouth. And why do you pick white and not Asians. It is your low self esteem and lack of belief and your people that is keep us behind. Read your history and you will realist that what we are going through any country US included has been through this. Europe has been through this and experience is the best teacher, bring back the whites and when are our people going to learn. What is happening today in Africa is part of the learning process. We shall get there. We…

    • Mr MMD Chief Bootlicker, I see that you didn’t read properly. I used the word FOREIGNERS, not whites when I talked about hiring people to manage Zambia for 30 years.

    • We don’t need to be colonized again. Mugabe might have grabbed land and agriculture production might have fallen, but eventually with time the locals will know how to farm on their land and be productive. The thinking that it is only the white that can make things work is the lie the white man has sold people like you so that he can continue be master over you. A lot Asians countries are doing well and, hey they are not run by your so called white people.

      You are being LAZY to research on this issue yourself even though you blame most Africans.

    • Ba MMD fimo fimo, if you hired a white man to do manage something for you, how is that colonialism?

      If you had done a little bit of reading, you would discover that black Zimbabweans are actually currently asking the white farmers to come back and manage the big commercial farms which have become white elephants.

      The Asian Tigers all copied white western countries before they became successful. So I wonder who is being lazy here.

    • Michael, you are actually one of the very few persons on this site not hiding under a fake name, me included, wow, might learn a thing or two from you.

    • Mr chishala! the truth is what you are saying, leave this grade 5 drop out, vagabondic bootlicker, the fact is Africans are not 100% humans but just advanced gorillas. Give more info mr Chishala , you sound genius……..

  4. “And no clothing company can survive a week in America if its owner utters racist words”. I don’t how well researched that statement is, and I can only assume that you have not lived in these lands you are referring to long enough, because if you did, you would know that some institutions are openly racist and they thrive because of that. So may be you aught to do a more thorough research before you parade some loose opinions online. How about that?

  5. Thank you for this piece. But Zambians are not to blame–this is a human condition. It’s just that in our hyper-connected age rumors are sparked and spread that much faster and further. (reminds me of the old saw ‘A lie will go round the world while the truth is pulling its boots on’–which, ironically, has been attributed to Mark Twain and others but the origin appears to be C.H. Spurgeon)

    I’ve seen rumors fly on email and social media, to which I always do the same as you: check snopes.com. The best source to confirm, or more likely out as false, the rumor wildfire du jour.

    Continue to remain skeptical before fanning the flames. And next time don’t continue the proliferation of nonsense by including the quote that has been debunked. Yes, Trump is a blowhard and not fit…

  6. Good article! Indeed every article that is thought provoking raises questions but if we focus on the main theme, we realise that the author is encouaring us to read,research and look for information on daily happenings to understand what we hear and comprehend how major events may affect our lives. The author is advising us to avoid emotional reactions that are not based on sufficient evidence and is asking us to use various avenues of getting information and cross-checking before we form or support opinions. In Zambia we have a poor reading culture and believe that reading is for studying. The majority do not even know that TV and internet is a very good source of knowledge but mainly use them as tools for entertainment and social network.Let us start examining ourselves to start…

  7. Michael Chishala’s message is simple: We are too lazy to ask probing questions of our politicians and make up our minds using rational and well-reasoned decisions choosing to rely on emotion and group thinking instead. For this reason, crooks, liars, false deceivers and demagogues rule this side of Babylon. So what is so complicated about Michael’s arguments, you people?

  8. Mr Chishala, thanks for your reaction. You are right about the Frazier lefts, but USE YOUR LEFT described Liston. Who else terrorised the heavy weight division with his powerfully-muscled arms but Liston? It took youthful rowdy Ali to go against the odds and ‘liberate the world’ with two Liston defeats. Really, do we need to argue against well-documented historical events? I also insist that the KK example was heavily spiced with opinion, as sensitive as it is, thereby distracting from an otherwise good argument. For me, I remain open-minded, I hope you do too.

    • Ba Chalo Nkanza, Dont be petty. The message from Chishala is that we Africans are lazy at researching. Don’t you agree?

    • Chalo Nkhanza, search for and read a research paper called “Explaining Zambia’s Poverty” by Alan Whitworth. It carefully examines KK’s economic record based not on opinion, but on verifiable facts. I am of course always open minded. It is in disagreements that I learn the most.

  9. Michael Chishala – You`re such a thought provoking intriguer. I salute you for pointing out the uncomfortable truth about us Africans. Plain and simple we are docile. anyone who realizes this uses us to their benefit, be it an investor, politician, pastor etc. We get easily comfortable in any situation. Take for example our load shedding. People have not gotten used to it and soon no one will even ask questions anymore. We have this ability to settle into any situation whether good or bad without asking the hard question that can take us out of our misery. It’s slavery, am sure African cried about it but eventually they accepted it as normal. Imagine the whites themselves had to end it. Where were all the so called blacks and what di they do about it. There was no independence from…

  10. Trump is 100% right and he is saying all this because he wants to see a different Africa, So its up to us Africans to do something about it, but i do not think we have the courage, brains and will to do this.

  11. Why go into the Trump debate when the Article’s author makes clear that Trump story is false? Hasn’t Mr Chishala pointed to the source of the falsehood, and plainly stated that the Whole USA heard nothing of the sort from Trump. This therefore leaves us to debate other side matters raised along the article, such as where he accuses us of thoughtlessly abandoning African religion for whiteman’s and condemning our embracing of witchcraft and superstition. Surely, an enlightened person understands that the African religion he misses had infact many inherent elements of superstition and witchcraft – indeed the two were actually inseparable practices, Mr Chisala. Try harder ba tata.

    • My central thesis has to do with gullibility and lack of critical thinking. Focus on that. Believing any witchcraft story is an example of gullibility. Believing in other religions without a second thought is the same thing. So where is the contradiction?

  12. Good points but as pointed out overstretches into areas that should not have been part of the debate. If Mr.Chishala had researched well, he should have known that Christianity does not originate from Europe. Once upon time Europe also had some of the magical superstitions that are still prevalent in Africa.

    Mr. Chishala should also know that most universities were introduced by Christians so that people could learn the bible. Try visiting the two top universities in UK, Cambridge and Oxford and you will learn about their Christian background. Go do the same in Germany, America and your theory of Christianity being responsible for underdevelopment being debunked. In fact the more the world becomes circular the more we also learn that man though he tries to be a super intelligent…

    • Who doesn’t know that Christianity originated with the Jews in the Roman Empire, or that it was largely spread by white people beginning with the Emperor Constantine in the Third Century? Europeans were superstitious as well but began getting out of it during the Enlightenment era sparked off by the Martin Luther Reformation movement which broke the power of the Catholic Church that had caused the Dark Ages.

      I already stated that I do not subscribe to conspiracy theories about the role of Christianity in being used to colonize Africa. It was not the intention but some white colonialists probably took advantage of it. I also never said Christianity is responsible for underdevelopment in Africa (that is your own straw-man argument). What is was talking about is the poor reading culture…

  13. I do not agree with everything Mr Chishala has said but I salute him for the main point he has raised about the need to critically research issues. I would also add that just because something is written does not make it true hence the need to critique what we hear or read. In fact the scriptures command believers to be well-researched. Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth – 2 Timothy 2:15. Good on you Mr Chishala.

  14. Gullibility is a problem probably everywhere , as people do not expect the sheer duplicity and disregard for others that some humans choose to use. We are all capable of horrible , and hypocritical things, however people who are innocent (and children) do not readily perceive or look for these depths in others. It doesn’t matter what colour you are , anyone can be gullible or deceitful , honest or hypocritical , any colour , any country…it’s just the more civilised you become , the greater the temptation to be self-serving and deceitful. Don’t be taken in by civilisation, embrace wisdom and imagination and respect and mercy, compassion, justice ,truth, love and , hopefully ,peace. Some people are bastards, some are angels, most are somewhere in between….try in all your decisions…

  15. mr micheal come out from the darkness and believe in yourself offer solutions to GRZ & NGOs, priority should be socialism we should believe in our self’s as zambians

  16. This Mr. Chishala guy behaves like a man who gives you a mirror for you to see how dirty you are after going for a long time without a bath and change of clothes. Naturally, many of us will deny that mirror image depicts us!

  17. What Does “Donald Trump” Teach Us about Ourselves As Africans?
    That humanity surely must have a common ancestor. How can a person so far away in America talk and act exactly like Chishimba Kambwili?

  18. Please the story was false. He is right that it was going to be on all over the news in America. I have not heard a peep about this article here in America. It was going to be condemed in a second and he was going to stepdown because someone can eliminate him. You know what I mean. Stop responding as if it happened because the scriber already said it all in the article.

  19. and yes i salute you Michael Chishala, very thought provoking but true, uku kana aishiba ifintu a bana Zambia! like the “senile old woman” who was killed in Zambia few months back, because she was outside her home at 5am naked, she was presumed a witch, and a plunk was shoved somewhere in her, killed gruesomely, and why because people collectively assumed she was a witch! what a shame!!!!! uku kana aishiba ifintu.

  20. You will call me stupid because you do not understand my culture. I will call you the same because I probably don’t understand your culture. To suggest that Africans or Zambians are lazy is a very stupid conclusion. Read about the life of Frederick Douglas, focus on his and other slaves ambition to read/study, then look at the outcome. So you honestly believe the west is not biased upon fake stories. For instance it is the advanced west that preaches that Africa is a wild, a jungle. What do you have to say about their biases on this subject. Will you call me lazy because I’m not as wealthy as Bill Gates? Define laziness? “That something is wrong with us Africans?”Perhaps you, because this is the kind of mindset that led to the current situation.

  21. Michael Chishala a nice piece there, a few comments. Firstly the gullibility you mention is slowly coming to an end with modernization. One has to realize we went from essentially an iron age society with no written languages to modern civilization in one generation. Your barley and my barley grew up in the villages and were good at school and that’s why we are where we are today. Its the minority that made that incredible journey, so you still have the battle of generations.
    Secondly no country has ever developed using “foreigners” all real development comes from own people, am not an advocate of bringing in anyone to “govern us”, how many schools, university graduates, or universities did the British produce from decades of colonialism? You can count them on the fingers of…

    • The less a person reads, the more susceptible he is to manipulation. But ignorance is a relative term, there are large levels of functional ignorance in the western societies, their populations are largely made up of ignorant f o o l s who believe any sort of rubbish they read on mainstream media like BBC and CNN or FOX etc. If one lacks critical thinking then it doesn’t matter how much reading you do, youll believe anything.

  22. OK, so Michael Chishala has managed to provoke the minds of docile Zambians? At least for once Zambians are discussing an important issue. Least you forget all MC is asking Africans to do is proactively (and not re-actively) getting concerned about things that concern us. We should understand the issue before going all out to comment on what you haven’t deeply understood. Africans in particular Zambians MUST develop a habit of researching, record-keeping (or documentation). Don’t just be excited by some article and with no clarification plunge into commentary.

  23. Truth is truth, proper analysis, I often wonderour mentality, its full of insinuations andasumption, what kind of life is this, the media is the most hit with this syndrome!!

  24. Michael Chishala you clearly are an ediot. You can’t be passing such sweeping statements as if they are gospel truth based on stoopid and flimsy observations
    Africans are lazy you bark, they cannot do a Google search to verify a story. Or even just spend one minute to think and realize that the story cannot be true. So you are the smart one from this continent?
    You’re trying to show off that you are the only African who thinks and that’s one reason I think you’re an ediot.
    Another reason is that you clearly are very immature. That can be seen by your citing kindergarten stories which you claim to have proven false for your bid to show you are clever. All of us grew out of the story of the boxer who fought with one arm tied behind his back. Reality told us such things are kids…

  25. Reality told us such things are kids fables cos boxing bodies allow such stoopidity. You haven’t matured enough so you end up citing these kindergarten fables in a supposedly serious argument. Or you are just too lazy to find genuine fables to disprove. You should write for children’s books not Lusaka times

  26. Reality told us such things are kids fables cos boxing bodies wouldnt allow such stoopidity. You haven’t matured enough so you end up citing these kindergarten fables in a supposedly serious argument. Or you are just too lazy to find genuine fables to disprove. You should write for children’s books not Lusaka times

  27. True there were plenty of such stoopid stories which disappereared once you grew up. Like that one of Kalepula Masumbu vs Kafwanayo. I believed the story as a kid but when you never heard it in adulthood you realised it was fake.

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