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World

Africans React To Trump's Vulgar Comment

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Leaders from across the African continent are angry about President Trump's vulgar comments about their citizens and countries. Governments issued official condemnation. Organizations registered alarm. Social media buzzed with shock and offense. Peter Granitz in Pretoria, South Africa, rounds up the reaction.

PETER GRANITZ, BYLINE: Macky Sall, the president of Senegal, an American ally in West Africa, says Africa and the black race merit the respect and consideration of all. The government of Botswana, a stable, democratic ally of the U.S. summoned the American ambassador to explain what the government calls President Trump's reprehensible and racist remarks. And here in South Africa, Jessie Duarte, a leader in the African National Congress, called Trump's language extremely offensive.

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JESSIE DUARTE: Developing countries do have difficulties, and those difficulties are not small matters. And it's not as if the United States doesn't have difficulties.

GRANITZ: The African National Congress, the 106-year-old political party, has historically been seen as the moral authority on the continent, among its leaders and supporters, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. The ANC fought the apartheid system, which prevented black South Africans from owning property, getting a decent education or living where they chose. Somadoda Fikeni, an expert on South African heritage, calls Mr. Trump's comments isolating - that they offend people who normally hold the United States in high regard.

SOMADODA FIKENI: A person who has gone through apartheid is particularly very sensitive to anything that may suggest, be it subconscious or conscious, racist remarks. So to me, I do think that I take it in the same manner. It's a dehumanizing comment.

GRANITZ: James Abubakr stands outside a busy gas station where he works. He's from Malawi and moved here to South Africa in 2005. With its industrialized and diversified economy, South Africa offers Abubakr a chance to make a better living than he would back home. And he says he just cannot understand President Trump's sentiments.

JAMES ABUBAKR: We can't agree that because we also - here in Africa, we got American people.

GRANITZ: Abubakr wants to move to the U.S. He thinks it offers even more opportunity than South Africa, and he says the president's comments will not affect that. For NPR News, I'm Peter Granitz in Pretoria. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.