Viewpoint by Azu Ishiekwene
US President Donald Trump could have misplaced re-election however he could be escorted out of the White Home on January 19 evening with a particular prize: Africa’s worst good friend in fashionable occasions.
Not that it issues come what may to Trump. We are able to solely hope that after 4 years of spite, insults and hostilities, he would possibly but, in a fleeting second of sanity, ask himself whether or not going out of his solution to annoy or denigrate the continent was price all the difficulty.
Trump had a love affair with many components of Africa, particularly amongst younger aspirationals via his books on making a living and his movie star TV reveals. However I suppose it was simply pores and skin deep, purely transactional.
The actual Trump got here to mild after he was elected president. The indicators have been at all times there, although. Throughout his marketing campaign, he insulted immigrants and blamed them for all of America’s issues, together with decrease testosterone ranges. However no matter he considered and stated about immigrants earlier than his election, what he stated, did and tried to undo after his election was worse.
He used punitive Government Orders to focus on Muslims, particularly these from Africa. He blamed immigrants for rape, medication and violent crimes and for stealing American jobs on high of that. He incited racial hatred particularly amongst far-right white teams and unleashed the demon that entered Derek Michael Chauvin who crushed George Floyd underneath his knee in daylight by a pavement. Trump abused lawmakers who needed fairer immigration legal guidelines and accused them of encouraging an inflow of aliens from “shithole nations.”
That one, directed at Africans and Haitians specifically, harm. The AU was compelled to demand an apology. Trump supplied one with the precise hand and took it again nearly instantly with a vulgar left hand when he known as his visitor, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, “lifeless”.
Not lengthy after he insulted Buhari, Trump put his foot in mouth once more, proper as much as his knee, solely this time over South Africa. He latched on a false remark by a Fox Information TV host, stoked by a vicious trope of white farmers, to ask the US secretary of state to “intently research the South Africa land reforms and farm seizures…and the large-scale killing of (white) farmers.”
After all, there was nothing like that. The African Nationwide Congress (ANC) had known as for constitutional modification to broaden land possession which, due to South Africa’s apartheid historical past, put thousands and thousands of blacks at a extreme drawback.
That was all. If there was any killing in any respect, it was on Trump’s Twitterfields, the place for 4 years the US president and his lynch mob made fact truthful recreation.
Maybe there was a spell of sanity, like when President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya visited him? Not fairly. The allure offensive was not a lot out of affection for Kenyatta. It was not an admission of guilt both: it was merely motivated by a way of chilly enterprise calculation. Trump was fearful that the Chinese language have been getting an more and more larger chunk of the Kenya pie, and the deal maker and Sinophobe that he’s, he wanted to keep up the US lower.
For all his disguised and undisguised insults, tirades and tantrums throughout his presidency, nonetheless, Trump reserved the worst and bitterest spite for the final.
Like he did on the Paris Accord on local weather change, North Korea, and commerce, the US president broke ranks together with his allies, preferring to be a lone wolf. Trump opposed and obstructed two important appointments on which Africa and the remainder of the world stood shoulder to shoulder: The reappointment of Dr. Akinwumi Adesina as president of the African Improvement Financial institution; and the appointment of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as director basic of the World Commerce Organisation.
Not that there was any blemish to the data of the candidates or a query of competence or capability. Trump was simply being Trump, a person who wouldn’t let widespread sense get in the best way of his ego. American exceptionalism taught and extensively esteemed in lots of graduate colleges and adored in elite circles on the continent – the very energy of American instance – is in tatters.
Additionally, through the current dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Trump who was presupposed to be a mediator, warned that Egypt might “blow up the dam”, elevating tensions which have been already excessive within the area.
“With mediators like Trump, who wants an instigator?,” main columnist and chairman of the editorial board, Mahmoud Jega, requested. “His perspective – his racist insults and lack of empathy – is a mirrored image of his contempt for blacks within the US specifically and blacks all over the place.”
In hindsight, the motion of the primary black Nobel laureate in Literature, Wole Soyinka, who known as out Trump’s bigotry early on, discarded his US “inexperienced card” and vowed by no means to go to Trump’s America, appears gentle. Those that criticised Soyinka on the time should now be feeling sorry for themselves.
But, as Jega additionally informed me, whereas Trump takes first prize, he isn’t the one unhappy chapter within the continent’s ebook of hostile US presidents, the place Republicans have a particular point out.
President Ronald Reagan as soon as loved that notoriety, together with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The pair was the worst worldwide enablers of and profiteers from apartheid, nonetheless stridently the Organisation of African Unity (OAU because it then was) and the remainder of the first rate world opposed that obnoxious regime.
Within the final 40 or 50 years, Jega stated, Africans seem to have had extra mates within the Democratic fold, with President George W. Bush’s distinctive African report, being the one Republican outlier.
Bush not solely holds the very best report for essentially the most US presidential visits since Franklin Delano Roosevelt first set foot on the continent in 1943, his well being initiatives valued at $80billion, helped to shine the considerably tarnished Republican legacy in Africa.
To be truthful, Trump maintained the over one-decade-long historical past of between $7-$9billion support to Africa; known as out the Nigerian authorities on sectarian killings within the Northern a part of Nigeria; and even offered fighter planes to comprise insurgency which Nigeria couldn’t safe underneath President Barack Obama.
Hotheads in Nigeria’s South-East urgent for self-determination even fancy Trump as a hero. But, his tenure has been the worst collective nightmare within the African psyche.
South African journalist and newspaper editor, Ferial Haffajee, stated she could not consider a Trump Africa legacy, accusing him of “unwinding” the nice insurance policies of his predecessors.
“He was the archetypical strongman chief,” Haffajee stated. “As we watched aghast on the raid on the Capitol in Washington within the opening days of 2021, I used to be blissful to be residing in a secure democracy with a wise president.”
Founder and Writer of Kofi Coomson, stated, “Trump was decrease than low. I nonetheless cannot fathom how he turned president of such a terrific nation. As an African, I feel he is the worst in residing reminiscence.”
Maybe, Africa wanted the madness of the Trump years to rediscover itself?
Former head of political affairs on the UN Hybrid Operations in Darfur, Sudan, Professor Babafemi Badejo, tends to agree. “Trump’s African legacy is that of a president who didn’t fake that Africa is of any significance in his international coverage focus.
“Though his spouse toured Africa, he did not, not like his predecessors. He relegated Africa to the low stage of State Division and left it within the palms of American firms which can be doing nicely for America. That ought to make Africans get up to the truth that worldwide relations is aggressive. Africans ought to cease being deceived that they’ve mates who’re giving them support lifelines.”
If it has taken Trump, and 78 years after FDR’s first go to for Africa to find the legacy of self-interest, maybe it is not a nasty factor in spite of everything. [IDN-InDepthNews – 14 January 2021]