South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe has divided opinion online after telling US President Donald Trump that Africans love him.
“Africa loves America. Africa loves you… we want America to do well. We want you to do well,” the businessman told Mr Trump at a World Economic Forum event in Davos, Switzerland.
Critics said Mr Motsepe had given himself the role of Africa’s spokesman.
A recent poll suggested that Mr Trump was popular in Nigeria and Kenya.
South Africa, the other country included in the poll, recorded 42% confidence in Mr Trump.
Mr Motsepe, 57, told Mr Trump it was an honour to meet him as they were both listed in a 2017 Forbes magazine profile of the Greatest Living Business Minds.
“You’re doing a good job,” Mr Trump replied.
A video of the event has been shared on Twitter:
Africa loves Donald Trump according to Patrice Motsepe #BabesMampintsha #ThursdayMotivation #etvScandal #Uyajola99 #djzinhle #Mampintsha #thursdaymorning #GRAMMYs #CoronavirusOutbreak @_AfricanSoil @AdvoBarryRoux pic.twitter.com/D0U7rpTjmm
— Ndisha Makhari (@ndisha) January 23, 2020
Responses have been mixed on Twitter with some trying to distance the continent from Mr Motsepe’s comments:
Disclaimer: the views of Mr Patrice Motsepe on Africa loving Donald Trump are his, and his alone.
— Mahlodi (@Dikgale_Mahlodi) January 24, 2020
Others have been embarrassed that Mr Motsepe appeared to want to impress the president:
The day we will have SELFMADE BILLIONAIRES in Africa, they won’t go twerking to America for Trump’s attention. That day the dignity of the African child will be restored.
— African (@ali_naka) January 24, 2020
But some have argued that in business and cultural terms there is a deep reverence for the US:
Motsepe has some truth. Love is not just a feeling but also acts of reverence and honor. African leaders revere imperialism and capitalism.
South Africa is worse. Couldn’t even defend the poultry industry because Trump wanted to dump his toxic chickens here. That’s love.
— Naledi Chirwa (@NalediChirwa) January 24, 2020
Patrice Motsepe is 100% correct. In a globalized world, the success of America becomes the success of Africa and so on and so forth. Long Live Patrice
— Olwethu Sipuka (@osipuka) January 24, 2020
The US president is yet to visit Africa but has made comments that have disparaged the continent.
In 2018, he denied that he was racist, after a row broke out over his alleged use of the word “shithole” to describe African nations.
The African Union later demanded that Mr Trump apologise for his “clearly racist” remarks.
But days after Mr Trump’s reported comment Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni said in a speech: “I love Trump, he tells Africans frankly. The Africans need to solve their problems.”
He recently raised eyebrows on the continent for suggesting that he, not Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, deserved to win the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.
Last year, the American leader told four US congresswomen to go back to their “crime infested places from which they came”.
The women were all born in the US apart from Ilhan Omar, who was born in Somalia and moved to the US as a child.