“Nambia’s wellbeing framework is progressively independent,” Trump said favorably at a certain point.
Sadly, there’s a problem —decent human services or not, Nambia doesn’t exist. And so the U.S. president’s commendatory remarks about a nonexistent country swiftly welcomed ridicule online, with many recommending that Trump had made a completely new country by consolidating two existing ones —Zambia and Namibia.
A White House transcript of Trump’s comments corrected his error, making clear that the president had not intended to invent a new nation and had, in fact, been referring to the very real country of Namibia, which is in southern Africa.
So how did Namibians react to “Nambia”?
Hage Geingob, Namibia’s U.S.-educated president, was in the room with Trump as he made his speech. In public at least, he offered no reaction to the suggestion that he was the leader of “Nambia.” Graham Hopwood, executive director of Namibia’s independent Institute for Public Policy Research, said this might be because of diplomatic protocol, but he also suggested that the gaffe was likely to have been overlooked by Geingob anyway for the sake of good ties between Namibia and the United States.
Neither the Namibian Embassy in Washington nor Namibia’s Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation responded when asked by WorldViews on Thursday about Trump’s comments. The talk of “Nambia” was also surprisingly absent from the websites of many major Namibian media outlets, including the newspaper the Namibian and the Namibian Broadcasting Corp.
On social media, the reaction wasn’t so muted. Some poked fun; others were angry.
FollowMelvin Hosea Angula @MelvinAngula
Hage: “great speech Trup”
Trump: “its TruMp, the M is not silent”
Hage: “oh like the ‘I’ in Namibia!#Namibia is not #Nambia
FollowNdina Smiley @Ndina_Smiley
My Pres and his large crew been in America for days and now we called Nambia, the disrespect. yall fly back home today.
FollowBenedick M Louw @benedicklouw
When you’re leader of an African country but can’t scold Trump on Nambia blunder because your people can’t afford to loose out on USAID.
“Namibians on social media have reacted with a mixture of anger and humor,” Hopwood said. “Many Namibians are not surprised that Trump didn’t know about Namibia or how to pronounce it, since his administration has shown scant interest in Africa.”
In some quarters, there was actually relief. Namibia maintains good relations with North Korea, spending about $100 million on Pyongyang-led projects since 2002, officials recently told The Washington Post — a position that could bring Namibia into conflict with the Trump administration