What Does Africa Do About Trump?

U.S. President Donald Trump/Image Courtesy of the New York Times

The Habari Network Editorial Board

Toronto/Washington/Addis Ababa: Over the next 5-year period, there’s a chance that a road will run from Boma, in central South Sudan, through Bor and Dima, and find its way to Raad, in southern Ethiopia. At the same time, another road will connect Pagak, in western Ethiopia, to Gamebella and Palouge, in the northern parts of South Sudan. Even though both western Ethiopia and much of South Sudan have very scanty, unreliable infrastructure, South Sudan’s oil or fuel could well be on its way to international markets via the Port of Djibouti. On top of allowing food aid to reach needy South Sudanese and Ethiopians, the road network – which should essentially crawl up to Juba – portends a day when goods and services from Uganda could reach Addis Ababa by road. This is how one conquers vast lands; this is how free trade agreements are implemented – this is how one garners capacity to assure human security.

American Absence

But what one finds is an overwhelmingly loud American absence in these desolate places. While some Africans do not expect an American white knight to ride to their rescue, others are keen on Donald Trump’s showmanship. Nonetheless, everyone seems to agree that the United States has returned to an even lower period morally than during the Nixon and George W Bush presidencies. Some say that the 45th American Administration – with Trump’s personal polls circling the toilet drain – is already America’s most corrupt administration, by far. This comes at a time when Trump’s own FBI Director blisteringly told the world that Trump’s predecessor neither placed wiretaps on Trump’s phone, nor had Trump Tower bugged.

The Huffington Post argues that the Trump Administration is not really administering anything. Trump is, simply, nothing. And as of posting this article, despite his threats to ensure that they lose their next election, some recalcitrant but genuinely conservative House Republicans have chosen not to support the current House bill to replace Obamacare.

Contextually, an African out-of-the-know could argue that Barack Obama did not do much for either the African Americans, or their kin, the continental Africans. Technically, that would not be correct. The 44th and first African American President of the United States did as much as any American federal government could do. For his part, Bush had PEPFAR and saved countless diseased Africans, and Obama was more than just a historical figurehead or asterisk. Obama was, perhaps, forward progression for millions of black and other minorities in the United States, and this was, also the wave upon which Trump rode into the White House: a racist, bigoted and myopic American wave some thought had ceased to exist.

Global Crisis

Which brings us to this juncture: what should Africa do about their Trump problem? Is Trump even a factor in their rapidly expanding and changing lives? In 2004 when Bush won a second term in office, Spanish writer José Manuel Fajardo called the election result “democratic suicide.” His Turkish colleague Ahmet Uemit called the Bush victory “grounds for concern everywhere in the world, and Chinese author Zhu Dake regretted how “unashamedly [Bush turned his] back on the traditional western values of Europe.” Based on what was happening in arenas such as torture and human rights, each of these writers suggested that the Bush presidency was the ‘… beginning of a metamorphosis by America and a global crisis.’

But it was Russian author Vladimir Sorokin who best captures the essence of all things past and present: “Unfortunately,” he wrote in 2004, “it is impossible to calculate the damage that Bush has done to Western democracy and the image of the West in the ‘Third World.’ Based on his allusion to the 1970s when underground Soviet artists saw America as an “island of liberty”, one can only guess what Sorokin would say about Trump.

Although he was referring to Bush, Palestine’s Hassan Khader crested Sorokin’s argument by suggesting that while the White House occupant may not realize it, that individual’s decisions determine the fate of many people. That was then. Today, the Africans would, definitely, not want their individual fates to be determined by a person like President Donald J. Trump. The Africans know, for a fact, that Trump neither cares, nor wants to care for anyone that does not share his lineage. At the same time, Africans cannot do anything to solve an American and global quandary. Hence, the perfect axiom is that one does not insult a crocodile while their feet are still in the water. But after experiencing the debacle of Bush bungling his post 9/11 global goodwill, Africans stuck in this Trump World may have no choice but to curse the dynamic that compels them to get their feet wet in the first place.

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