COLUMN/OPINION

Trump’s African Genes, by Hassan Gimba

Outgoing 45th President of the United States of America, Donald John Trump, was said to have German roots. His mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, is said to be Scottish. His paternal ancestry is traceable to Bobenheim am Berg, a village in the Palatinate, Germany, in the 18th century. Johann Trump, born there in 1789, moved to the nearby town of Kallstadt where his grandson, Friedrich Trump, the grandfather of Donald Trump, was born in 1869.

However, I think this is shallow. In the spirit of Kunta Kinte, Trump is an African, even though he called the continent a s**t hole. But what do you expect? We Africans love heaping insults on ourselves. It is in our genes. Therefore, the African Union can do well to commission a team of historians and archaeologists to dig up his African ancestry.

Though the 1876 election in the US witnessed a dispute between Republican candidate Rutherford Hayes and Democratic candidate Samuel Tilden, a transition from one government to another has always been smooth in America. But if 1876 was necessitated by a dispute, what of 2020? There was no dispute whatsoever regarding the November 3 presidential election in the US. The Georgia Senate runoff elections, in which the Democrats for the first time in 20 years trounced the Republicans, confirmed that Trump lost fair and square. And this is despite him running away from the remaining two presidential debates after turning the first into a fiasco fit for thugs. He claimed he was affected by Covid-19.

With 16 Electoral College votes, Georgia is one of the original 13 colonies that entered the American Union in 1788. It has been reliably “red” (Republican) since 1972 except for 1976 and 1980 when it supported its Democrat native son, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton in 1992. By 2004 it returned to “red” and gave George Bush 58 per cent of its votes to defeat John Kerry, the Democratic candidate. In 2016, Republican Donald Trump defeated his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, by about five per cent.

Like many African presidents, Trump, who came to power on the back of white supremacy ethos, was an aberration. During his campaigns, he was crude and uncouth in his language, insulting opponents and just about anyone who dared to question his methods, including the media. He loved putting fear into everyone as he was attributed to have said ‘The most important thing is to be feared’ in Bob Woodward’s book, Fear: Trump in the White House. And like all bullies, he drove that fear into all contrarian voices within his party and government.

And he won – mostly thanks to the FBI investigation, covertly instigated by the KGB, into Clinton’s use of official email when she served as secretary of state in Obama’s administration. That put doubts in voters’ minds about her integrity. He is like a bumbling oaf in power, sacking aides according to his whims and caprices. He badmouths the same officials he praised to high heavens yesterday once they decide not to follow him blindly.

Sadly, to the fear of peace-loving people and those who looked up to America worldwide, the country became divided against itself on his watch. Its ugly sides came to the fore and, suddenly, the land was no longer the land of hope and freedom. The pastures there turned brown from its acclaimed green for many who saw America as something of the Promised Land. But the worst of all, Trump comes off as a puppet and Russia’s Vladimir Putin the puppeteer. In a way, Russia has gotten America where it wanted without firing a single shot.

It so became apparent that Russia, Israel and Saudi Arabia became the hidden influencers of America’s foreign, and to some extent, domestic, policy: Russia, because of its role in Trump’s ascendancy; Israel, because its Mossad was in the know and Saudi Arabia, being the Father Christmas.

Yet all these are still not indicators of the Africanness in Trump. That he will be among 12 one-term American presidents is also not one of the indicators. Forget about him being among the six American presidents who couldn’t win a second term as well, for it can’t be an indicator. To share the same page with James Buchanan (President from March 4, 1857, to March 4 1861), one of the worst Presidents America ever had, is not an indicator.

That Trump is one of five in the history of America’s 59 presidential elections to have lost the popular vote but became President through the backdoor offered by the Electoral College shouldn’t also be an indicator. Just as among these five, that only three – Trump, Adams and Harrison – ran and again lost the popular and electoral votes cannot be an indicator. Rutherford Hayes did not run for re-election, while George W. Bush ran and won.

His Africanness shines brightly in his love for power, his get-it-at-any-cost and retain-it-at-all-cost stance. Perhaps, his original African genes have been tempered through “contamination” by German and Scottish ones. If not, Trump would have remained in power for the next four years and even go on to become his adopted country’s President for life.

You see, in Africa, the sitting President who loses an election would dissolve the electoral body and arrest its head for collecting bribes. He would charge the cheeky opposition candidate with treason and ban his party for harbouring election riggers and dissidents. Then make a state broadcast annulling the elections and postponing it by two years. And he would tell everybody to go about their businesses. Case closed.

Another way is to roll out the security agents on the streets to intimidate voters after arresting opposition candidates. After that, the electoral umpire, appointed by him, would write out the figures and declare him winner even while voters are still queuing to cast their ballots. Any opposition candidate that takes the case to court will only succeed in according him more credibility. After all, the Supreme Court judges, still appointed by him, would fall over themselves to return the favour. Any judge that may not toe the line would have been disgraced and removed ahead of the polls on allegation of receiving gratifications.

Ah! Our Kunta Kinte brother tried this African monkey business in the Whiteman’s land. At first, he claimed victory knowing full well that mail-in ballots had not been counted. Something in his dark genes told him that all institutions would key into “oga’s” body language. But that only happens where he left his roots. Then he began to shout that he had been rigged out and called for a recount. And recounts he did get. There were recounts in Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona and some other counties. All confirmed he lost to Biden.

Then he shifted to the courts but various state courts kicked out his petitions for lack of evidence. He took his unprovable pleas to the Supreme Court which wasted no time in dismissing him. And then the insults started. He rained abuses on the justices, some of whom he had praised to high heavens when he appointed them. He was expecting a quid pro quo. But America is not Africa; it has strong institutions.

Not done, he played his last but one card: he bore down on the 538 electors that make up the Electoral College to announce him the winner. He failed woefully there.

Bill Weld, a Republican lawyer and former governor of Massachusetts, who lost to Trump in the last primaries, was asked about Trump. He said: “Everyone’s pretending that the President—he’s just a little different. They’re indulging him in his malignant narcissism. A malignant narcissist is someone who’s only happy when other people are losing”. Trump is only happy when he looks up and sees only losers. But when he lost at the electoral game; it was his time to be unhappy, but the problem was in the expression of the same.

His final card was what threatens to consign him to an inglorious dustbin of history. At first, he wanted state legislatures to overturn their states’ electoral votes, which failed outright. Then he wanted the joint Congress with his deputy, Mike Pence, serving as President of the Senate, to find a means to pave the way for him to remain President. Not just that, he incited his supporters, some of them armed, to “march on” the lawmakers in their hallowed chambers at Capitol Hill. They spilt blood, and their blood was spilt. But, ultimately, he failed again.

What many prominent Republicans, including former Presidents Bush (Senior and Junior), former Secretaries of State Colin Powel, Condoleezza Rice and former Governors Mitt Romney feared came to pass. Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and revered Senators like John McCain joined them, warning as far back as the 2016 presidential election that America could enter “One Chance”.

A pro-slavery side of America became resuscitated by the rise to power of Donald Trump and his band of ‘rednecks’. His revisionist, nativist and ‘score-settling’ mentality invoked, harnessed and nurtured the worst societal instincts in them fuelled by the alluring seduction of making America great again.

Turning American democracy into a mobocracy, he unleashed a frenzied mob on Capitol Hill in the last gasp show of desperation and hopelessness. He was intent on bending an institution and a system purposely to hold on to power. An act that triggers in the American memory the sad Battle of Lake Erie.

The Battle of Lake Erie, or the Battle of Put-in-Bay, was fought on Lake Erie off Ohio’s coast during the War of 1812, on September 10 1813. Nine vessels of the US Navy defeated and captured six British Royal Navy vessels. In 1814, the British marched on Washington, setting fire to government buildings, including the White House and the Capitol building.

However, in Africa, achieving his wish wouldn’t have been too much of a problem. Ghana Must Go bags to the national assembly members would do the trick, failing which security agents would be drafted in to ‘persuade’ those not keen on the project. After all, some of them have stinking dossiers. And since almost everyone and everything depends on the government for survival, one can kill a rat in many ways than one. But America is not Africa as our genealogical brother found out. Now he must fight to remain on that seat till January 20.

Understandably, this man is venerated by many around the world, especially in Nigeria. Yet, even among us, we have more honourable men than Trump. Our own Goodluck Ebere Jonathan conceded defeat before the election result was declared.

But when looked at deeply, you will see among Trump’s Nigerian supporters the separatists and bigots. Trump sees himself as the best in everything, even claiming that his “first term was the best first term in the history of American presidency”. His supporters everywhere are hatemongers, supremacists and egocentrics. As desperate as he showed to cling to power, his supporters have the same mindset. Give such people responsibility and chaos will be the result.

First published by Blue Print on Monday, 11 January, 2021.

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