Simon Kolawole: Trumpism as tonic for “Africa rising”

by Simon Kolawole

And so, the world’s most powerful country will have President Donald Trump at the helm from January 20, 2017. Incredible. When Trump gave his victory speech on election night, I saw a somewhat remorseful man who appeared to be saying, “Guys, I was only joking! You took me too seriously!” Trump wanted a fling but it has ended in a pregnancy. I could not believe my ears when he called for “unity”. Having won the election by dividing America, Trump celebrated his victory by promising to “unify the country” — an adaptation of Clinton’s “stronger together” campaign. He now likes Obamacare “very much”. Americans have just been defrauded.

Trump did and said everything possible to lose the election: he insulted Muslims, blacks, Hispanics, women, children, war veterans, fellow Republicans and US allies; he promised to build a wall on the border with Mexico — over 3,000 kilometres long, similar to erecting a wall from Nigeria to Spain; he turned economics on its head, promising across-the-board income tax reduction without saying how he would make up for the massive revenue loss that could amount to hundreds of billions of dollars; and he even turned science on its head, denying climate change and promising to stop “all global warming payments to the United Nations”.

Trump spat a load of gibberish, yet the majority of Americans decided that he was the best candidate. No, I need to clarify that. The majority did not vote for him. As at Saturday night, updated results showed that 60,839,922 voted Clinton while 60,265,858 chose Trump. By a majority of over 500,000 votes, therefore, American voters preferred Clinton as president. But under the US indirect system, every state is allocated electoral college votes on an unequal basis (California has 55 and Alaska has 3). If you win in a state, you automatically get all the electoral college votes there. Trump won in states that have more electoral college votes than Clinton’s. Game over.

But this begs the question: why on earth did a staggering 60 million Americans vote for Trump at all? Going by his delinquencies, Trump should ordinarily not have even 30% of the voters behind him. Voters should naturally be disgusted by his instability, impaired reasoning, pettiness and emptiness. But 60 million Americans — almost equal to the population of the United Kingdom — said he was the man for the job. Several reasons have been advanced for the tragedy: the Clintons have a baggage; Americans wanted a breath of fresh air; Americans habitually change ruling parties at regular intervals; Trump played populist politics; his racist message was a masterstroke.

I particularly pitch my tent with those who argue that Trump won because his racist message resonated with the self-proclaimed “owners” of America — the white supremacists. To the embarrassment of moderate white Americans, these supremacists had been itching to “take back America” since a certain Barack Hussein Obama stained the White House with his black skin in 2008. Having Clinton in the White House, Trump consistently warned them, was like having a third term for Obama — a continuation of policies, such as Obamacare, which helped millions of blacks and Hispanics. Trump had 60 million disciples gleefully licking this dirt.

What is Trumpism? I would think it is one of the newest concepts in deglobalisation. Globalisation has massively interconnected the world economically and culturally, but the weaker economies and lowly societies are at a disadvantage and are being eaten up through “natural selection” in the evolutionary process. They are consumers and not producers, and the power is always with the producers. Globalisation has clearly made the richest economies richer, perpetuating their hegemony, spreading cultural imperialism, keeping the poor countries as poor as possible since they contribute little or nothing to global production and trade.


But globalisation also comes with its baggage for the rich countries: the opening of their borders for blue-collar workers has seen an unprecedented influx of immigrants from all over the poor world. With the gap between the rich and poor nations remaining so wide, and with conflict, insecurity, unemployment and poverty ravaging the less developed countries, immigrants continue to flood the West, legally and illegally, in search of better life. The population of immigrants continues to grow as new generations are born. They are soon seen as security and economic pests. Resentment inevitably enters the fray. Globalisation has also shipped jobs abroad in some instances.

Deglobalisation, meanwhile, seeks to diminish global integration. Wallen Bello, in his 2002 book Deglobalization: Ideas for a New World Economy, wanted countries to follow development strategies sensitive to their values, circumstances and resources. This concept is focused on allowing poor countries to develop without being hindered by the rich nations. Bello proposed reorienting economies from the emphasis on “production for export” to “production for the local market”. He advocated that the governance structure of production, trade and economic decision-making should be local not global. That is, Africa should make its own trade rules, not WTO.

Bello’s concept is “economic” deglobalisation, built on promoting equity and even development globally. Trumpism, on the other hand, is a deglobalisation concept based on a different ideology: xenophobia. White American nationalists think immigrants are an eyesore and should be kicked out. Some of these racists are actually well-to-do and have benefited from a liberal order, but are now only interested in kicking away the ladder. They resented the “African-American president” and extended the odium to anyone and anything he supports. They needed a champion to articulate their irrational ideas — to stand up for them, to be their messiah.

In came Donald John Trump. He seized the moment. He fanned their fears. He promised to “rescue” their national pride (“Make America great again” — it’s been belittled by the offspring of slaves). He promised to deport “millions” in his first hour in the Oval Office. He instantly became their rallying point — the one who speaks plainly and outrageously, the anti-establishment guy, the one not given to political correctness. Yes, a breath of fresh air! Trumpism was born! It was sired by opportunism, trading in the irrational fears of a self-conceited people who are unable or unwilling to independently disaggregate, analyse and understand socio-economic issues.
Without a doubt, Trumpism is the American brand of the xenophobic deglobalisation ideology. They had the Brexit brand in the UK — driven by the morbid fear that foreigners were taking their jobs and clogging hospital space. They just can’t rationally analyse the tremendous contributions of immigrants to their economy. The German and French brands of xenophobic deglobalisation are in the making. We will hear more about that in next year’s elections. It is an epidemic that will most certainly spread across the West as paranoid citizens get inspired by Trumpism and Brexit — and other manifestations of xenophobic, racist ideologies.

But for Africa, all hope is not lost. If there is any time in history when our leaders need to buy a brain and put their continent in order, this is it. Xenophobia will continue to fester in the West. You can’t have ultranationalists in power without consequences. Africans in the Diaspora will continue to face grim realities. Many would love to return home if only we can provide the basic tools that will allow them to be productive. Just the basic infrastructure you expect in a modern human society, not in the Acheulean and Oldowan communities. If we prepare for the outcomes of Trumpism and Brexit very well, we could actually begin to genuinely discuss “Africa Rising”.

I have always believed that Africans in the Diaspora would play a lead role in the rebirth of our continent. Our sons and daughters have gained enormous education, expertise and experience in every field over there: medicine, science, technology, the arts, name it. I have always believed they would return home at some point to join hands with those of us at home as we set out to conquer underdevelopment. If we make our land more conducive, they would be willing to start returning home. What an opportunity knocking on our door! Trumpism may be a dirty ideology, but we can turn the lemon to lemonade. Hope.


In 1979, Prophet Godspower Oyewole said the name of the man who would win the Nigerian presidential election was in the Bible. We had Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe and Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo on the ballot, but when Shehu Shagari won, Oyewole said “Shamgar” was also in the Bible! Clever. Primate Theophilus Olabayo famously said “Bush will win” the 1992 US presidential election. He later said it was Bill Clinton he “sincerely” saw in his vision but made a mistake when he was ambushed by reporters. Prophet TB Joshua saw a “woman” winning the 2016 US presidential election. A man won. If I were him, I would say “the woman actually won the popular vote”. LOL!

I’m very amused that some Christians are happy Donald Trump won, believing he will “restore morality” to America by appointing anti-gay judges into the Supreme Court. Of course, my view as a Christian is different: I can only see morality, as we define it, going down the hill as the world gradually begins to wind down. We ain’t seen nothing yet! Meanwhile, what Christian morals are we to expect from a man who has married thrice and divorced twice? What morals would a bully instil in American children? What morals are we to learn from a misogynist? Women can only hope Trump won’t grab ’em by the p**** as he once boasted. Fantasy.

Mr. Waziri Adio, executive secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), told a senate committee recently that, according to CBN figures, Nigeria earned about N70tr from oil from 1999 to 2014 — yet we are in recession, largely because of a poor savings habit. He estimated that we could have saved $100 billion at boom times, and we wouldn’t be in this mess today. Media reports, not surprisingly, narrowed the whole issue to ex-Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan. When are we ever going to start asking questions of governors, council chairpersons as well as federal and state legislators? Reflection.

When an uprising started in Tunisia in 2011 leading to the ouster of the country’s president, the fire quickly spread to other Arab countries such as Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Libya. Western intellectuals fell over one another to explain the phenomenon, which they eventually tagged “Arab Spring”. How well has it gone? According to the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the Arab Spring has cost the region $614 billion in lost growth between then and now — about 6% of their total GDP. And over 300,000 have lost their lives in Syria alone. The mob is not always right after all — and the voice of the people is not always the voice of God. Hindsight.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

This article was first written here


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