African advocacy groups call for dismissal of USAID director Natsios after ‘racist comments’

African advocacy groups are calling for the dismissal of U.S. Agency for International Development Director Andrew Natsios based on his “shockingly racist comments” that many Africans “cannot tell time well enough to take anti-AIDS drugs,” the Washington Times reports.

When explaining on June 7 the Bush administration’s intention to focus on prevention over treatment, Natsios said that many Africans “do not know what watches or clocks are. They do not use Western means to tell time. They use the sun. These [AIDS] drugs have to be administered in certain sequences, at certain times during the day.” Africa Action, one of the “largest pro-Africa groups” in the United States, has urged Secretary of State Colin Powell to “repudiate” Natsios’ comments. In a letter to Powell, Africa Action Director Salih Booker wrote, “We are writing to express our deep sense of outrage at the shockingly racist comments made by … Natsios. … Someone such as Mr. Natsios, with such ignorant and bigoted views, does not belong in a policy-making position and should be fired.”

The letter includes signatures from Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker of the Religious Action Network and Sharonann Lynch of the Health GAP Coalition. A spokesperson for Natsios said yesterday that he “meant no offence” by his comments (Morrison, Washington Times, 12/06).

Source: Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Reports

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