President of The United States of America.
Picture Credit: TIME
As the world reels from the news that Donald Trump is the President of the United States of America, we need to take a look back at what the win, combined with the proposed British exit – Brexit – from the European Union means for Africa, Africans and black people in general.
Like the push for Brexit, Donald Trump’s campaign was riddled with fear mongering, describing a world where minorities are supposedly overwhelming the (predominantly white) population of these countries. The purview of these two world powers hold is that by ‘letting’ more ‘minorities’ into their nation, the people indigenous to these countries are being pushed out; from leadership positions, jobs, opportunities and other benefits of being a citizen. To the majority of Americans and Brexit voters, these foreigners are making them less than they are supposed to be and they need to take their power back. In plain speak, keep the bloody foreigners out!
While this is being touted as nationalistic for those who hold these views, we cannot help but see the underlying (in the case of Britain) and most times, glaringly obvious
(Trump couldn’t be clearer) tones of racism, bigotry and hate. It is shocking to note that these two countries that pride themselves on being progressive and the most tolerant of the world powers have massively voted to stop acting like they consider all human life equal. George Orwell couldn’t have been more accurate.
The United States of America and the United Kingdom have voted to stop pretending that there aren’t racist undertones in their country. They have also voted to stop pretending that they care about ALL human life.
Why is this a historical time for Africa particularly? The answer lies in the fact that Africans and black people keep going to these countries for one reason or the other. Before I look at the Black people from these countries, I will discuss those of us from Africa.
The data collated by NOI Polls and Pew Research Center show that rate of emigration of Africans to the US and UK has increased. This is especially explained by Monica Anderson in her article, ‘African Immigrant Population in U.S. Steadily Climbs’ posted on Fact Tank, Pew Research Center on November 2, 2015. Of particular interest to me are these paragraphs:
“There were 1.8 million African immigrants living in the U.S. in 2013, up from 881,000 in 2000 and a substantial increase from 1970, when the U.S. was home to only 80,000 foreign-born Africans. They accounted for 4.4% of the immigrant population in 2013, up from 0.8% in 1970.
The growth is evident among recently arrived immigrants. When compared with other major groups who arrived in the U.S. in the past five years, Africans had the fastest growth rate from 2000 to 2013, increasing by 41% during that period. (Africans are also a rapidly growing segment of the black immigrant population in the U.S., increasing by 137% from 2000 to 2013.)
One factor behind this recent wave can be traced to the Refugee Act of 1980, which made it easier for those fleeing conflict-ridden areas, such as Somalia and Ethiopia, to resettle in the U.S. Back then, less than 1% of all refugee arrivals were from Africa, compared with 32% today, according to figures from the U.S. State Department’s Refugee Processing Center. Statistics from the Yearbook of Immigration Statistics confirm this point. Among refugee arrivals in 2013, five of the top 10 countries of nationality were in Africa: Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia.”
But more than a desire to flee war-torn countries is an emigration for proper (and more advanced) health care, better education, more effectively working systems’, tourism or just having a go at ‘greener pastures’. Each of these by themselves is not too much of a problem but when put together, we see the problem as clearly as day; Africa is a failing continent. It breaks my heart to say this because of my optimism about Africa but it is imperative that we accept that we are failing; and woefully so!
The rest of the world took pity on us for centuries and allowed some of our excesses. Of course they did this for their selfish gains but we are more to blame for this than they are. We cannot continue to funnel our resources, wealth, revenue or intellect towards improving these countries when ours, and hence our continent, continues to suffer and bleed out. We cannot continue to continue to perpetuate the ‘white savior’ complex and expect more developed countries to solve our problems. And now, even if we want to, these countries are not having it anymore! They are sick and tired of our neediness and constant dependence. They are done with us!
So what can we do?
1. First, we need to wake the hell up! These countries see us as nothing more than pests and leeches and what do you do to these? I will let you figure it out. Before that time comes, we need to borrow ourselves some sense and wake up;
2. We need to stop believing in the ‘white savior’ ruse because guess what? They have not saved us from anything! In case you don’t know, South Sudanese people are still dying. So are Somalians. Many African countries are still dirt poor. Aid after aid after elaborate event to raise more aid and the problems we have are still very glaring. No country will save us as long as they need us to remain dependent. We have to save ourselves! The black race has to save herself!
3. There is no better time to strengthen our institutions than at this very moment. We need to start investing – heavily – in our educational and health sectors, our military, government systems, infrastructure, landmarks, power, communications and best of all, our human capital and resources;
4. The bloody brain drain has to stop! We cannot continue to take so much money abroad to study and remain there. We can also no longer afford to have our top scientist, doctors, engineers, geneticists, tech gurus, innovators or pioneers unwilling to remain in the continent because our governments do not appreciate them! This has got to bloody stop! These people go to the US and UK and make them better nations while we suffer. Dear African governments, this must end;
5. We need to cut down on importation of ALL KIND! This will mean strengthening our manufacturing and production sectors, investing in technological innovations and sacrifice from all of us. Even though we are perceived as nothing more than whimpering beggars, these countries still need us to dump their products while making cool money. This has got to stop! We need to cut out products from these countries and we can only do this by making our own!
6. We need to shelve our various reasons for hating each other into the soak-away. Who tribalism epp? Who religion epp? Who geopolitical zone epp? Who jollof rice debate epp? For once in our history, we need to be united; a unity than goes beyond our national borders, tribe, religion, orientation or perceived strength! If one country in Africa suffers, we all suffer. That is what Europe learned when Greece went into recession. For each African nation that remains under-developed, Africa suffers. So it is about time we put aside our petty hatred and channel our energy into uniting for a greater Africa.
If those of us from Africa can do this, there just might be some hope.
And to my black and brown people who are citizens of the US and UK, get ready! Life is going to get progressively harder for you. In a nation where cops profile, target and kill black people for any and every infraction (whether they be real or imagined), the majority voted to keep you down. White supremacy lashed out at you for daring to think that you had a right to have an opinion. And with the help of FBI Director James Comey, Julian Assange and Wikileaks, even white women who dared to think they have a voice were trumped.
We still love you, Hillary Clinton!
This however isn’t the time to fight or cause carnage. If you do, you will be playing right into their hands. This is the time to look inwards, assess the situation and push back. How can you do that? Push for better education for minorities, lend your voice to human rights activism, teach your children and family members the value of human life and humanity, campaign for better voter education, and best of all, stand tall.
This election has been the most heartbreaking thing I have seen in a while but guess what? We will be fine. We must however begin to do things differently.
Dear Africa (and all black people), it is time to wake up!