Africa in Donald Trump’s roots

US-VOTE-REPUBLICANS-TRUMPPresidential candidate Donald Trump may well trace his political roots to 1957 when on Ghana’s Independence Day Kwame Nkrumah alarmed many capitals with his dictum that Ghana’s freedom will not be complete until the whole of Africa is also free. In October 1960, Tafawa Balewa ignited a spark inside the United Nations General Assembly with his declaration that Nigeria shall seek freedom and human dignity for all peoples of African descent wherever they are in the world. In 1963 Prime Minister Milton Obote of Uganda openly advised President John F. Kennedy to stop preaching to newly independent African countries about “democracy’’ when black people in America were forcefully prevented from voting and electing their leaders, including those from among their own communities.

It was telling that Nkrumah invited Reverend Martin Luther King to attend Ghana’s independence ceremonies. Both Kennedy and his deputy Lyndon Banes Johnson responded by linking diplomatic relations with Africa to ending shackles that held down black peoples in America – even if it did not include South America and the Caribbean. They used federal troops to protect black students entering colleges in the states of Alabama and Mississippi. More importantly, they introduced legislation to give the right to vote to blacks. The Civil Rights Act benefited from Johnson’s long experience as a Senate leader and a senior politician from Texas – a major state in the racist South.

On becoming President, Johnson rolled out his dream of “The Great Society’’ to end poverty among both whites and blacks all across America – particularly his native South. His use of the presidency frightened the majority of whites. The British-Trinidadian novelist, V.S. Naipaul would affirm in his travelogue titled A Turn in the South, that neo-feudal leaders in the states of Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, Missouri and Texas deliberately kept the majority of whites illiterate and impoverished as a strategy for keeping them as loyal voters. These so-called “Red Necks’’ sang their despair in their mournful ‘’Hill Billy Songs.’’ They remained loyal to political leaders who kept African-Americans down, thereby giving them some folks to feel superior to.

President Johnson’s policies frightened both this ruling class and the poor whites. While the “Red Necks’’ turned away from voting for Johnson’s Democratic Party, leaders crossed over to the Republican Party. The party gratefully harvested the venal racism expressed in popular regional disgust and fear of progress as articulated in Johnson’s “Great Society’’ vision. Congressmen like Huey Long and Wilbur Mills tirelessly amended Johnson’s federal legislation meant to inject social benefits and income for businesses to exclude African-American communities as beneficiaries, including widows, single mothers, the elderly and school children.

With the election of Barack Obama to the White House, the racist fuel in the Republican Party inside Congress was ignited on several fronts. Since 2012 States of Alabama, Florida and Texas enacted laws to deny as many as 600,000 African-Americans – in the State of Texas alone – the right to register as voters. Blacks who are generally too poor to travel outside the United States are asked to produce American passports as voter identity cards. Those who cannot afford to pay for transport to registration centres are not allowed to register through phone calls or Internet.

The explosion of white policemen gunning down black young men; raping and beating to death black women arrested and held in police stations, were clearly meant to recall old practices of lynching blacks as a way of mobilising racist prejudices and notions of keeping white communities safe. Moreover, the drawing of constituency boundaries to ensure that racist legislators have “safe seats’’ ensured that the Republican Party won comfortable majorities in federal and local legislatures despite their uncompromising opposition to public welfare bills sent to Congress by President Obama.

In economic doctrine, the Republicans were allergic to federal investment similar to a “Marshall Plan’’– that would support small and medium scale businesses by African-American communities who were trapped in poverty and low local taxes in “inner city” areas of major cities after richer middle class whites fled to suburbs. Paradoxically, with the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the threat of communism gaining ground among Americans, the advocates of the “Washington Consensus’’ abandoned middle class Americans who saw factories closing in their cities and relocating in China, Mexico, India and elsewhere where wages were low. Advocates of “let market forces reign’’ were indifferent to governments merely watching millions thrown into unemployment; losing their houses to mortgage companies, and becoming unable to pay for college education for their children.

The advocates of the Washington Consensus offered Africa intensifies poverty and collapses of internal industrialisation with no option of being an alternative frontier for keeping jobs in Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago and elsewhere.

Into this picture of despair enters Donald Trump as the “outsider’’ who had not been tarnished by the betrayal of the white middle class and the “Red Necks’’ by the leadership of the Republican Party. He has updated the old racism of the Republican Party of the Southern states by including hatred for Mexicans, Muslims and women who abort pregnancies. He offers his followers the “recolonisation of Africa’’ and the deportation of Africans, especially Nigerians, because Africans have failed to rule their countries well. In this he is avenging the panic which Nkrumah, Balewa and Obote aroused among America’s white racists in the 1960s.

Trump has not yet articulated the panic among current American officials – led by Hillary Clinton while she was the third highest ranking official in President Obama’s government – about China’s diplomacy of promoting economic development in Africa on terms acceptable to its leaders. His offer of nuclear weapons to Japan and South Korea might echo this subject.
• Oculi is of the Africa Vision 525 Initiative.

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  • Daniel

    Trump is right . I see nothing wrong with re-colonising Africa or dealing a hard blow to religious bigots who play holier-than-thou and politicians who engage in grand stealing.

    Nigeria is a classic case of a failed state that has to unravel, if the politicians refuse to sit up. Obama is the worst American President for Africa. He killed Gadafi, and thus gave more powers to Boko Haram who has flow of weapons from militants in Libya.

    Mexico cannot claim to be the weeping child by supporting it’s citizens that enter America illegally. Something must be done about that.

    America may claim to be great, but in reality it’s economy is in trouble. It’s infrastructure is outmoded when you compare it to Asia or the Middle East. American airports do not feature in the top five, if not top ten, airports in the world.

    It spends huge sums on defending Europe, yet other NATO members pay little to maintain it.

    The list of America’s failings is endless.

    • Jakie

      So where do you stand? Are you supporting the bigots like Trump for their racism and disrespect for fellow human beings? Don’t mix issues, my friend! Haven’t you studied History to see that even all the Whites in America today are aliens and not natives? For your information, the Red Indians own the land!! These bigots should stop calling themselves Evangelicals or Christians. They are devil incarnates because they hate fellow human beings. Listen: I once predicted that neither Trump nor Cruz nor Rubio will become President of the US for playing God! Mark my words. Period!!

      • Daniel

        Your fellow black thieving compatriots all over the state and local government capitals masquerading as politicians who care about the people cannot stand where Trump stands.

        Trump is not politically correct. He says it as it is. He has created thousands of jobs for all races. He has women as top executives.

        Trump is absolutely right. And I want to re-emphasise that Africa needs recolonisation. The only shining light is South Africa which belongs to the whites economically.

        A black president by the name Jacob Zuma is now destroying it.

        The earlier we stop being ostriches, the better for us.

      • thoms

        Dear Jakie, if we can direct and vent our anger against the thieving fellow citizens, rather than towards the not yet accepted flagbearer Trump, we quickly put an end to the mess we have now.

  • peaceman

    In a 21st America, Donald Trump cannot rule USA with all his billions.