Every four or so years, humanity across the globe is glued to their screens as they await the outcome of the United States general election. It is such a crazy day full of emotions, even if you are not American or have nothing to do with the country. This is the kind of sheer power and influence America wields on the rest of the world. That even a kid in Karachuonyo Constituency in the North-Western part of Kenya would miss their sleep to hear who will lead America. Ok, maybe not in the recently concluded/ never-ending American election.
The last 3 or 4 US elections have been keenly followed by the masses in Kenya. So let me start with the obvious one. Some 12 or so years ago, the son of Barack Hussein Obama Sr., a native of Rachuonyo, decided to put his name in the hat and vie for the highest post in America. This was an earth-shaking revelation that had Kenyans, Africans, and black folks of African origin across the globe glued to their screens. The thought of having someone black leading America had been inconceivable. Imagine it was only a few decades back when “negros” were allowed to be in the same classes, use the same buses, and even share the same washrooms as white Americans.
Now the son of a man from Nyang’oma Kogelo was on the ballot to be elected leader of the free world. Anyway, we all know the outcome of that election. It all started with hope, which then quickly faded away, reminding us of what an ugly world we lived in. Maybe we were all naive to imagine with Obama's ascendancy to the presidency, the plight of black people across the world would change. Imagining that his presidency would put an end to much of the underlying systemic racism and end years if not centuries of discrimination.
Not much changed within the years, in fact, the racial divide grew even more prominent over the years. We saw a rise in hate crime coupled with police brutality. Fast forward and the year is 2016 and Barack is in the final year of his second term in office. America is again at its highest height of campaigns. People across the world were waiting in bated breath to see who will succeed the man that ran on the platform of hope and the famed phrase “yes we can”. But now, it is 2016, and all we hear and read in the media is, “lock her up”, “build a wall”, and “make America great again”. The rhetoric has changed from hope to almost despair. This is the new norm, “America first” and then the rest of us…
I remember that morning very vividly. Showing up in the office to find the rest of my early bird colleagues already at their desks. No one was in high spirits, we could not believe our eyes. We had been duped. Somehow the polls had misled us to believe, “I am with her” was going to stand the test of the dogmatic tyranny of the Donald. Somehow America had turned red, very very red. I am not sure if it was a vote for Donald or a vote against Hilary. At this point, it didn’t even matter. All we could think of from our European, Asian, and African viewers stands, was how could Americans be so blind? How had they selected this narcissist?
It didn’t matter what the world was thinking. America had found their new “prince charming”, with the rest of the world being box ticket holders, who were here to watch the American “world series” championship. A competition that somehow was called the “world series” but only involved American teams. Anyway, it's America first, so what do we expect? Donald was going to be №45 and we all needed to brace ourselves for what was to come.
The last four years have been such a curveball of a story. We have all grown accustomed to having whatever type of emotional reaction that best suits our survival towards №45s actions. Donald enlists an entire spectrum of emotions, some folks adore him and would go to war for him, while some can’t stomach his rhetoric and wish the earth would just open up and rid us of his ego and arrogance. Some like myself find him to be rather comical and actually very strategic and smart in rallying his base. His presidency has been one that will go down in history as having some of the best (economic time/unemployment) and worst (corona response/racism). Such a topsy turvy era the last 4 years have been.
Trump has always reminded me of African dictators and how they abuse their positions to spread fear amongst their citizens and utilize their office to polarize the masses. In the recent election, most of the world was glued to the screens. We were all wondering, will they make the same mistake again, will Americans “bless” us with 4 more years of the same narrative? Especially after such a catastrophic response to COVID-19. How could America have gotten it so wrong? I guess Donald is only good for business and everything else should be self-service.
Back to the elections. 2020 elections were a bit special, with mail-in ballots and several days allocated for the counting, tallying, and confirmation of the information. The elections felt like one done in a country where the election system wasn’t too mature. We had to wait days/weeks to finally get an outcome that Bidden had been projected winner of the elections. Then started all the shenanigans from the Trump base that take me back to my statement — a 3rd world leader.
For a president who used the last four years to literally shit on everyone who stood against him and opposed his verbal bullying, the defeat was very very satisfying to watch. The Germans have a phrase for this situation, schadenfreude. Trump's loss was greeted with joy and celebration across the globe, but even more so in Africa. This man had called our home a s**thole. Such a lack of class and decency.
After his loss, we have now seen the other side of him. A privileged self-absorbed individual who doesn’t know how to process a no. Guess he has been used all his life to get things his way or to force his hand on things he shouldn’t. This time around, the tables had been turned and Mr. Believe me I’m the best at everything, isn’t so good at eating humble pie. He has decided to use his remaining weeks/months in office to make it as painful for everyone else.
A few years back in Kenya, there was a politician by the name of Miguna Miguna. He had found himself at loggerheads with the President and his cronies after administering the swearing-in of Raila Odinga. This led to Miguna being forced to leave the country via deportation, even though he was a bona fide citizen of Kenya. Miguna was picked up from his Nairobi home by the police and detained without a trial or charges being lodged against him. Shortly after he was missing for close to a week, he was forcefully boarded on a flight destined for Dubai. An ordeal that led to Miguna fighting the authorities and hence the famous line, “I am not boarding” was coined.
When I look at how much Trump has refused to concede the elections and how much he is “fighting” for his presidency. I can’t help but think of Miguna and how much he had refused to leave the country when he was being deported. The only difference being one man was illegally being thrown out of his country, while the other one is illegally trying to stay in power despite having resoundingly lost an election. In Africa, there is a famous line, “you don’t lose and election which you have organized”. I guess Trump is throwing in the kitchen sink to make sure he upholds this saying. As we all wait for January 20th, we can only wait to see if Donal J. Trump will also join the — “I am not boarding” club.
© Untitled’s Cut