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Opinions of Friday, 11 November 2016

Columnist: Daily Guide

Are Americans wrong?

The world’s attention is on the United States of America, it has been over the past few months particularly when Donald Trump won the Republican Party’s nomination for the just ended Presidential elections. The world was not comfortable with Trump not because he was hated as a person but his utterances during the campaign even for his party’s nomination sent a wave of suspicions and mistrust among the international community and the immigrants in that country. One thought that after winning his party’s nomination, his campaign tone was going to change, but alas, he opened fire (obie gya). For me, he was very consistent with his beliefs and thoughts even though the world disagreed with him.

The world, particularly the developing world, could not come to terms with Mr. Donald Trump’s stance on immigration in this globalized world particularly when from time immemorial, the United States of America has been a haven for many poor people from across the globe who want to enjoy the much touted American dream. The greener pasture that has been associated with that great country has endeared it to many people from poorer nations. Their respect for human rights and human dignity has made that country a safe haven for people who are facing persecution and prosecution in their own home countries for no crimes committed other than expressing their political views contrary to those of the powers that be.

It is in this light that the world was and perhaps is still worried when the doors of what seems to be a welcome home for the dejected and afflicted are being shut in the faces of those without hope in their own countries. As someone with a leaning towards the Conservative ideology, my sympathies go with the Republican Party in the U.S.A. However, I was not very comfortable with Donald Trump’s campaign message. I feared he was going to get the Republicans to lose the elections.

All the polls were against him, scandals unproven were unleashed on him, and the minorities believed or still believe that they are not safe under the presidency of Donald Trump. Key Republicans dissociated themselves from him, the world despised him. He is the President –elect of the United States of America today. One may ask, what went wrong? At this level, what I can say is that the majority of Americans who agreed with Donald Trump did not take part or were quiet on the polls, leaving the pro- Clinton voters to speak out publicly. The pro- Trump voters kept their thoughts to themselves until the 8th November.

In my view, two political decisions have taken place this year on the international political scene. A few months back, the people of the United Kingdom voted to exit from the European Union to the surprise of the world. Before the elections, the world had believed that a vote to get the UK to remain with the EU was non-negotiable. The shock came after the elections. Americans, in spite of the general criticism against Donald Trump, have voted massively for him. The world needs to critically analyze the reasons behind these decisions by the UK and the USA.

From my own perspective, migration from underdeveloped countries to the developed countries has soared over the last 30 years or more. In fact, in decades past, those nations needed the labour of the underdeveloped countries to help in their development. Even though a number of illegal migrants (undocumented as the Americans will say) managed to live in those countries, they ended up being documented to achieve legitimate residence and in some cases nationality. In the immediate post-independence Africa, many of the sons and daughters who migrated to these developed countries went there to study to come back to help in nation building.

Over time, migration was pushed by economic conditions. Africa in particular had mismanaged its affairs, civil wars had displaced so many thousands of people, hunger, disease and illiteracy among the people of this continent and others kept mounting. A sense of hopelessness and insecurity, socially, politically and economically stared in the faces of the youth of our continent in particular as the resources of their various countries were and are still being plundered by a few people holding political power. Nations of the developed enclave tolerated and accepted us in many instances on humanitarian grounds.

Over time, it seems that our presence in those countries is having a negative toll on them. The global economic environment is creating joblessness for the host nations, their standards of living is going down, their culture and social lives are being adulterated while insecurity mounts in those countries since it is difficult to predict the thoughts of the person standing just next to you.

These and many more are responsible for the British voting to get out of the EU to prevent other European citizens from taking away their jobs and putting pressure on their social welfare budgets and other such social services. They did not express their abhorrence of the virtual takeover of their country by ‘foreigners’, verbally for fear of being described as xenophobic, they used their thumbs to protest what they are not comfortable with. A few months back, Germany had local elections and Angel Merkel’s party lost miserably in those elections as a protest by the Germans for the open door policy of their government in times of insecurity and economic pressures globally.

Yes, all the polls conducted before the elections in the USA went in favour of Hillary Clinton and the expectation was that it was going to translate into real votes. The world was disappointed, but Americans who were in support of Donald Trump’s concern about job losses and virtual takeover of their jobs by undocumented migrants kept quiet in the polls but expressed their agreement with Trump at the polls.

Calls I have received so far from the USA after the elections indicate that African Americans did not turn out to vote en mass for Hillary because they are the worst affected by joblessness in the American society. They are worried that not many job opportunities are available to them, the menial ones have also been taken over by migrants. They were the silent supporters of Trumps policy. I am also told that not many American Muslims voted against Trump because they feel very uncomfortable with the activities of Islamic fundamentalists who have sadly put all Muslims into the same basket of a violent group of people. They want to be respected as well if the fundamentalists could be prevented from entering the US as it were.

I was personally amazed to see in the early hours of Wednesday that Trump has won Florida, a State with a huge Latino population. What happened? These were the silent majority who did not openly show support for Trump for fear of being labelled xenophobic. Americans have spoken, the world is scared, particularly those of us from Africa and other underdeveloped nations.

Truth be told, no nation on this planet owe us a living, it was not by accident that nature put us where we are and endowed us with the resources available to us. We have failed woefully to utilize these resources for our collective good out of greed, selfishness, incompetence, corruption, nepotism, ethnocentrism and sheer folly and stupidity on our part. Today in Ghana, pristine river bodies which served all of us when we were kids have been allowed to be polluted and destroyed and not good even for agricultural purposes. Our education systems are collapsing, health facilities can’t take care of the people, job opportunities are closed to the up and coming young ones. Hopelessness and helplessness have become the lot of the citizenry, their glistering dreams and aspirations have been shattered by those who manage their collective resources.

Their only hope lies in migrating to other lands, the risks notwithstanding. Today, the mountains from where our help cometh, are gradually shutting their doors to us. What we need to do is to look inward to ourselves, rise up and gird our loins and build our nations for our children’s children. Americans don’t owe us a living. Americans are not wrong.

Daavi, three tots of mahogany bitters.