On those African students in the US

I’ve been seeing a lot of tweets like this in the aftermath of Trump’s “shithole” comments:

I have no doubt this is true, but what few seem to be willing to do is examine why that is. Of course, a lot of people scratch the surface and say it’s because the US is getting Africa’s best and brightest, but nobody I’ve seen has gone any deeper than that. So I will.

What I’m about to say will vary from country to country, and even region to region, but it will be broadly true across Africa. As with anything of this nature, exceptions abound: I’m talking in the general sense here. When people talk about America getting Africa’s best and brightest, what they really mean is they’re getting Africans who had the resources and connections to first get educated and then get themselves across to the States. It may be nice to dream of some utopia whereby these lucky few include those born super-bright in a mud hut to a peasant farmer, but it isn’t true. In much of Africa, getting an education requires money and connections. The same applies for getting a certificate at the end of said education, and if you have money and connections you can get this certificate while still remaining spectacularly dim.

So who has money and connections in Africa? Well, first and foremost it’s those who make up the ruling elites and their relatives. You can be sure those who run any given African country have their kids in the best schools money can buy, often overseas, and have the means and wealth to get them into an American college when they’re done with high school. In other words, a portion of those Africans supposedly outperforming locals in American universities will be there thanks to the graft, incompetence, and corruption that have made their country of origin a shithole in the first place. And there is absolutely no guarantee they will be particularly bright, regardless of what pieces of paper they hold.

You then have the relatives of those who are not directly involved with the running of the country, but nevertheless do very well from the status quo. These will be well-placed “businessmen” who have clawed out some advantage for themselves using bribery, threats, and skulduggery. They too are responsible for their country being a shithole, and their children direct beneficiaries of the practices that have brought it about.

Finally, you’ll have the relatives of people who have earned their money legitimately, or through sheer hard work and a lot of luck have managed to get an education and a ticket to the US without resorting to lying, cheating, bribery, murder, and thuggishness. I know a few like this, and they do exist.

So what’s the split between those three groups? I have no idea, but you can be sure there are representatives of all three from every African country, and it will vary between countries. What I’d like to know is how many of these Africans I’ve seen proudly declaring their “shithole” origins are in the US as a direct or indirect result of relatives who are the root cause of the problems back home? How many African students who have taken to Twitter to denounce Trump have family members in national or local governments which are riddled with corruption, or hold cushy positions in state-owned monopolies which extract extortionate rents from ordinary people? It won’t be all of them by any means, but it will be a lot of them, and it might even be most of them. And as for this:

Nigerian-Americans have a median household income well above US

Nigerians drawn from the wealthiest few percent in Nigeria are wealthier than the average American? Who would have guessed?

The number of African students studying in the US and their relative wealth is not the boast people think it is. It is in fact, in large part, a reflection of the very problems Trump was referring to.


22 thoughts on “On those African students in the US

  1. If country X isn’t a shithole, why did they leave and emigrate to the USA?

    Supplemental question; why don’t people emigrate from the USA to country X?

    Supplemental supplemental question; did anyone on Twitter who threatened to emigrate in the event of President Trump actually do so? One high profile example will suffice.

  2. Here in the midst of the Great Somali Resettling in Minnesota, I read these messages about the obvious intellectual and educational superiority of Africans with barely suppressed hilarity.

    We now have around 70,000 Somalis living in nearby Minneapolis and out into our surrounding suburbs. A large group was settled into my local area, and into my kids’ schools, back when my kids were of that age.

    The schools immediately dumbed down and voilented up. Educated? Hardly. Dumb hostile charity-seeking missiles.

  3. Shitholery is to do with politics, because politicians allow shitholes to exist.

    So, as it’s nothing to do with the colour of a politician’s flesh but everything to do wIth the shitty policies enacted, then screaming the ‘Wayciss!’ word does not apply.

  4. What is exceptionally dodgy here is the attempt by Maggie Jordan (and many others) to conflate the issues of racism and commenting upon a country. Trump has not said that Nigerians are a lesser breed who are incapably of benefitting from American education and culture. That sort of claim would probably be racist according to many people’s definitions, but very few people have said anything like that. At most, he has said that Nigeria is a shithole. I think Jordan can see the difference, but it’s far easier and more effective to just imply that someone you don’t like is a visceral racist, isn’t it?

  5. Happy Martin Luther King day folks.

    What I would like to know is where do all these black graduates go when they enter the workplace. I honestly can say that I don’t see any of them or evidence of them at management level around the places I work, Australia, Mid East, Africa and Asia. Are they all in London or something?

  6. Sam, the thing is, Nigerians ARE a lesser breed. They are intellectually stunted, culturally backward and are only a half step away from barbarism. Those things are not fixed with an American college degree. The fraction of a percent who manage to make something of themselves on merit are irrelevant. It’s the averages that matter.

  7. Bardon – there are a few in London, but not exactly numerous in the professions. But newer arrivals directly from Africa seem to be doing better than those from the West Indies.

    Bobby b – to be fair to Nigerians and other Africans, the Somalis have a bad rap even there. Seems to me that they are pretty much the worst of the worst globally. My folks worked in development aid and some friends of theirs in the same “industry” had brought 10 or so Somali boys to Tanzania, where they were working on a restoration project in an historic town, in order to learn how to build, the ultimate intention being that they could go back to Somalia and help restore that country. I can’t recall the details as this was some time ago, but I think it was a total disaster, with some absconding, materials stolen and so on.

    Anyway, all this brouhaha does is further distance the people from their representatives.

    So Trump wants:

    – A secure border
    – Immigration law followed
    – To have immigration based on merit

    On what planet is this controversial?

    The lack of these things are an insecure border, the law ignored, and the importation of benefit eaters (at best). I dare the Democratic party to put it like that in their 2018 election manifesto.

  8. “Mr Black on January 15, 2018 at 12:48 pm said:
    Sam, the thing is, Nigerians ARE a lesser breed. They are intellectually stunted, culturally backward and are only a half step away from barbarism.”

    That may be so, but my point is more about Jordan’s mendacity. Trump may well believe what you do, but we don’t have any reports that he said it. Jordan is trying to conflate the two for petty political advantage.

  9. I do wonder if we gave up the Empire too soon. Would another 50 years have improved governance, property rights and largely non-corrupt legal systems in some of these countries? The irony is, of course, that the US was largely instrumental in forcing the dismantling of European empires after WWII.

  10. One of the reasons so many African nations are shitholes is because the people there who can afford to send their kids to university in the US are such selfish grasping pieces of shit.

  11. 2/3 of Nigerian immigrants hold college degrees, a percentage higher than East Asians & Americans

    Presumably these folks would do just fine under the proposed merit-based immigration system, then?

  12. Why do people who routinely refer to Trump as an asshole have a fit of the vapours when he refers to a country as a shithole?

  13. I’ve seen a bunch of #shithole tweets from Africans who seem to be very impressed with themselves for graduating from an American college, and they always describe themselves as “human rights activists”. But if “human rights activism” is actually a thing that’s needed (and I’m not sure it is), surely it’s needed so much more in Africa than it is in the US. They need to get back to Mother Africa and start activating! For humanity’s sake!

  14. The other side of the argument is, what hope do these hellholes have if countries like the USA keep taking away their best and brightest?

    What a shame if the possible drafter of the future Somalian or Nigerian Federalist Papers instead leaves his country and becomes just another comfortable diversity academic in some first-world university. What a loss if the person who could modernize electricity delivery across an African wasteland instead designs ad routers for Facebook in California. What hope do we leave a Somalia or a Nigeria when we search out and take away the very people who have any hope of helping them improve?

  15. re: bobby b

    It’s getting to a point that Minnesota Man is newspaper shorthand for Somalian man.

  16. Great post Tim, nailed it in one, but don’t expect any laurels from the lefty twats who inhabit the internet, politics and universities who couldn’t place Africa on a map. I recently finished eight years in Angola, with stints in Sudan and Nigeria, and while I did work with some very smart Africans, often Nigerians, what you say about the scions of corruption is lamentably true. In Angola, the privileged employees of the American oil company I worked in were sometimes competent (maybe 10%) and probably obtained their positions on merit, most had a privileged background, based on parents on the right side of the civil war, or politicians, diplomats etc. On dozens of occasions, truly difficult to understand, was their mentality. Engineers with a promising career would conduct obvious scams like falsely claiming an offshore allowance or fiddling overtime, certain to be discovered. And this from people earning over $10,000/month! In one notable case, one of my close colleagues claimed money and a week off work to attend his fathers funeral. Twice!! Enough said!

  17. “2/3 of Nigerian immigrants hold college degrees, a percentage higher than East Asians & Americans”

    Wait a moment! So what do we call, colloquially, a place such highly educated people feel the need to emigrate from?

  18. They feel the need to leave because the place is a shithole.I’m in Nigeria at the moment and quite a few people agree with the statement. The other day I saw a poster advertising Immigration to Venezuela . Which says a lot about Nigeria as a place

  19. Pingback: Are The Residents Of A Shithole Nation Responsible For It Being A Shithole? | Banter Loud

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