Populism begets dictatorship. Examine Africa to understand our era’s dramatic moves towards authoritarianism.
The weekend’s referendum in Turkey is at center stage. But it’s to the faster developing, least developed and most desperate societies in Africa that you should turn your attention. Strong men are reappearing and stronger than ever, precisely because they achieve their power using the ballot box.
Africa’s a bit unsettled. Europe’s more unsettled than ever.
The world is connected by a million strings. They’re best seen from afar, because up close they’re indistinguishable from the humdrum of everyday life. The ones I watch are in Africa:
Growing protests turn really violent in the DR-Congo. The Gambian president who conceded defeat in an election now says only God can tell him to step down. The Ugandan military is flexing its arms like it did under Amin.
What’s happening and is it coming to America?
Why was Anna Galland so happy last night? Who will put peerless pen to my personal petulance? I found him. In South Africa.
Trump is “Nazi sludge…trapped in a Twitter feedback loop as a gift for a riled-up white electorate who had seen the ass-end of globalisation.”
The trouble with authoritarian rulers is that their authority becomes more important than themselves.
Adam Barrow defeated Yahya Jammeh last week in The Gambia and unleashed days of celebrations in the capital of Banjul. Twenty-two years begun with a violent coup seemed to end happily when Jammeh called Barrow and graciously conceded. Seemed like the old man just had had enough.
But it just wasn’t that easy.
Tanzania has begun issuing new licenses for radio stations, but it’s forbid broadcasting in local languages.
The decision is just one more technique occuring worldwide as authorities grapple with fake news. In Tanzania anyway, fake news is presumed harder to propagate in English or Kiswahili, the country’s two official languages. Now why would that be?
Is it a glimmer of hope or a foggy masquerade? Weekend elections in Europe and Africa suggest the former, but really, is the conservative populist movement terrifying the world coming to such a quick end?
The expected winners of Austria and The Gambia’s presidential elections, both die-hard if ruthless populists, were soundly defeated. Look to Africa for the greater meaning.
For certain, polling worldwide doesn’t work, anymore. That doesn’t mean you should just “forget about the predictions” because the predictions will tell you something very important.
If you’ve got something to say, say it now.
The world is contracting into conservative populism and freedom of expression is in the gun site. Trump idly suggests shutting down the internet or incarceration for flag burning, and legislators in Kenya and South Africa kick gleefully into high gear.
Stalled legislation in both countries to curtail the press and freedom of speech is moving forward, again.
Global conservatism will fail and Mali will soon provide the evidence.
Today Mali failed running a national election. The country’s inability to foster a democratic government three years after Islamic insurgents took over the country and were then ousted by the French will force the former colonial power either to occupy the country, again, or leave it to Islamic extremists.
This is the inevitable result of climate change and global political conservatism. It is the hidden elephant in the room that will traumatize then conceivably destroy the newly emerging political regimes of the likes of Trump and Le Pen.
“Wide-spread primal scream,” al-Jazeera’s 1pm news hour opened, reflecting not only protests in the U.S. but reaction worldwide.
I found one positive remark in Africa today about Trump’s election: A close confident to the horrible Zimbabwe dictator said that Trump “could turn out great you know.”
I could spend the rest of this month curating the remaining multi-thousands of remarks of horror and disbelief that Africans expressed today. It gives me great latitude to pontificate, so here goes:
No one knows what to expect from President Trump, so whether you’re a Kenyan tea farmer or an American software engineer or a South African financial consultant … suspend your fears. What he said in this incredibly nasty election, the alleged horrors of his past – forget. Elections are reality TV, and he knew better than any how to exploit that.
But everyone knows what to expect from a united conservative, Republican government. If that government holds under Trump – and that’s not certain – my predictions are clear:
Diversity vs. Human Rights is the great battle of our time. Elections are defined by them. They are so sacrosanct that they defy the necessary compromises for functioning democracies.
Society gets strained, broken, then destroyed.
That’s what I see happening in America, today, as it has already happened in most newer emerging countries like those I know in Africa. But exactly how far have Americans gone towards destruction?
The “world’s on edge” was the headline in South Africa yesterday, but I could have plucked it from virtually any corner of the world.
Most Americans don’t care what the rest of the world thinks, including Democrats and even Bernie supporters. I think of all the sadness I feel at this election, this is the greatest.
It proves that we are egocentric if narcissistic, but most importantly, grade school dumb. That may be fine for writing an involuted gaming app; it’ll kill you – and everybody else – in the real world.
The current president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, has nearly destroyed his country. He rose to power on the negative emotions of a neglected class of people, and he had no idea what to do once there.
Jacob Zuma’s rise to power and destruction has many similarities to Donald Trump’s, and above all the lesson to be learned is that he is real, not just a pixel personality that you can switch off.
Obama leaves office having created the largest American military complex in Africa in history with operations in at least 22 African countries.
The incredible size and scope of the American military in Africa was first reported in Mother Jones in 2013, but gained no wide audience. I was surprised then and remain surprised, today. Is it because we’re safer? Or because we just don’t want to talk about it.
Joy Reid remarked last night that her father was Congolese, and she compared her experience today as a reporter covering the American presidential campaign to living in the Congo. There is much good to learn from Africa. But it seems that all we’ve learned is the bad.