Here's What Trump Actually Meant When He Said "Nambia"


At a meeting with African leaders during the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, the president made yet another verbal blunder, and it didn't go unnoticed. Trump name-dropped "Nambia" at the UN meeting, and there's a reason you've never heard of it before: the country doesn't exist. Instead, a White House transcript suggests Trump probably meant to say "Namibia."

After Trump was introduced by national security advisor H.R. McMaster, Trump began his speech, addressing leaders from Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Guinea, Senegal, Namibia, and Uganda.

Thank you very much, General. I appreciate it. And I'm greatly honored to host this lunch, to be joined by the leaders of Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Nambia, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, and South Africa. In particular, I want to thank President Condé, who is representing the African Union. Thank you. Thank you.

Unfortunately for him, he didn't correct himself the second time he tried mentioning the coastal nation located in southwest Africa.

But we cannot have prosperity if we're not healthy. We will continue our partnership on critical health initiatives. Uganda has made incredible strides in the battle against HIV/AIDS. In Guinea and Nigeria, you fought a horrifying Ebola outbreak. Nambia’s health system is increasingly self-sufficient. My Secretary of Health and Human Services will be traveling to Africa to promote our Global Health Security Agenda.

Trump left out just one letter (an "i") from the country's actual name. But still, the gaffe doesn't reflect well upon the leader, who has come across as uninformed on more than one occasion. The most recent example may be Trump's flip-flop on terminating DACA. After advocating for the program's termination, he urged Congress to take action to potentially reinstate it, raising concerns over whether or not he understood the ramifications of his initial decision.

This also isn't the first time Trump has mispronounced a country's name. During a foreign policy address in April 2016, Trump said "Tanzania" wrong. “I would say that it really doesn’t bode well if somebody who’s campaigning to be the leader of the United States can’t even pronounce the name of the country,” Priya Lal, Boston College assistant professor of African history, told The Guardian. “That seems like the most basic starting point, it is a serious error and it is ignorant." Alternatively, former White House press secretary Josh Earnest poked fun at the gaffe saying, "Apparently the phonetics are not included on the teleprompter." The president has also mispronounced a number of world leaders' names over the past several months, including that of Turkish President Erdogan.

Another part of Trump's address at the luncheon with African leaders came under fire on Wednesday. "I've so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich. I congratulate you," Trump said. "They're spending a lot of money. But it does, it has tremendous business potential." The remark clearly came across the wrong way, as no one clapped. It's true that westerners have gotten rich in African nations — by exploiting them through imperialism and colonialism. It's worth noting, as CNBC did, that the United States has also supported a number of authoritarian regimes on the continent including the Chad, Ethiopia, and Equatorial Guinea.

Trump made the comment while trying to foster more business relations between African nations and the United States. He suggested that the United States should invest more in them and vice versa. However, he might have to consider better ways to get his point across the next time around. Just a couple of days prior on Monday, he mentioned the business potential "right across the street," in reference to his own Trump World Tower building. That's not how you make a deal at the UN.