Stronger religious protections, more affirmative action and new constitutional protections of minorities is the #4 story of Africa for 2017. Sounds good until said simply: tribalism on the rebound.
The political catastrophe of South Africa and the election circuses in Kenya are the best examples. Democracy and tribalism bring out the worst of each other. Africa may be no different than the rest of the world, but understanding Africa is fundamental to untangling this mess.
The Mideast has not exploded because of Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem, but the effect on the U.S. is substantial and getting worse.
In response to our UN Ambassador’s childish threat that she’ll be “taking names” when the UN General Assembly votes on the resolution she vetoed last week, many African countries responded quickly but much more maturely. Their actions reflect not just how much of the world discounts the U.S., but how they now see us as the evil power in the world.
Winter’s coming: Fatigue in the blood-shot eyes of the activist. The man who couldn’t stop jumping for joy when Mugabe resigned. Grandma endlessly flapping her flag after the court annulled Kenya’s election.
Mothers pushing baby strollers at the Womens’ March. Old people in wheelchairs storming a Congress trying to rescind Obamacare. Tribalism strangles Africa. Now it’s gripped its evil tentacles around America. Please take heed.
Germany’s Nazi party was one of the craftiest, most patient political apparatuses ever created. Unable to win a federal election outright it concentrated locally, slowly and assuredly consolidating national power until it was in complete control of Germany by 1933.
Nazis masterfully used democracy to end it. What’s happening today in America, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and many other places is a version of this with one critically important difference. The consequences of not recognizing this are as dire as they come.
In 2013 after a lifelong success of writing novels about his native East Africa, H.R. Ole Kulet was awarded the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for literature. His short novels are now an essential part of the history of East Africa.
Ole Kulet described life that was changing so fast that today young Kenyans can’t fanthom his characters or his plots, including such things as rich old chiefs sexually assaulting young teen girls.
There are conflicting accounts of the deaths. The official Zambian police report claims that the 57-year old Belgian woman walked “too close” to take photos. But family members of the two killed told the Lusaka Times “the duo were looking at the giant mammals from a distance” and were charged unexpectedly.
In the big scheme of things, here’s why the details matter less than you might think.
One of the most important elephant organizations in the world, Cynthia Moss’ Elephant Trust, has minimized any imminent threat of elephant extinction and quite to the contrary reaffirmed the need “to promote coexistence between increasing numbers of humans and elephants.”
Over the last few years there have been literally dozens, if not hundreds, of not-for-profit organizations using inflammatory claims that elephants are on the brink of extinction in order to raise funds. This was malfeasance little different from Fox News.
Moss’ organization has reset the “elephant problem” in the right way.
The lofty positions held by a number of Africans in both government and business is jeopardized by the Paradise Papers expose, and for exactly the same reason that Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, is on the way out.
Nothing illegal is alleged in the Paradise Papers’ leaked business deals, mostly with Cayman Island banks. Nothing illegal is alleged in the Times’ expose of Apple’s tax havens in Britain and Ireland.
But legality isn’t the issue. Morality is. Wealth of this magnitude should not be held by so few.
Racism has been affirmed and strengthened by democracy. This morning Kenya is controlled by Kikuyus and their allied tribes, as it has been for 300 years. Fires still burn, several people have been shot, and Kenya’s non-Kikuyu cities are ghost towns. It could have been much worse.
I am supposed to guide in Kenya in a few months. Should I go? Yes. Why? Because it will be safe for my clients, because we will only travel into Kikuyu and allied lands. What about other places? Probably in a year. I’ve seen it before. The Kikuyus will be benevolent if not wholly fair, and the country will settle into an uncomfortable peace.
Watch Kenya. What is happening right now in Kenya could very well be what happens in America in 2020. At the time of this posting two hours remain before the polls close in Kenya’s rerun national election. So far the turnout seems to be around 25%. (The turnout in the August 8 election which was annulled by the Supreme Court was 80%.)
There’s widespread violence in the west of the country and in parts of Nairobi’s slums. The official announcement of winners could take a week. Incumbents and opposition alike know what the outcome will be: the rerun election will affirm the results of the original election. So 2 out of 3 citizens are not voting.
Democracy isn’t working, anywhere. South African Richard Pithouse predicted all of this in his summary of Trump’s election: “The Donalds are Everywhere.” Since that analysis nearly a year ago, Kenya, Spain, Italy, South Africa, the U.S., France, Britain and probably to some degree every democratic nation on earth has grown increasingly tumultuous.
Be prepared, folks. If you think the hurricane season is just about wind and rain, you’ve got another thing coming.
Democracy is alive and well in Kenya! Violence has already begun. Tear gas wafts through the city centers of Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa, the three largest cities. The main opposition party has told supporters to clear off the streets because continued police brutality has so far killed 33 protestors.
All this portends serious death and destruction starting about a week from tomorrow and continuing as it did almost exactly a decade ago for several months before slowly and painfully settling into another chapter of nervous peace, the country then more scarred than ever. Why can’t this remarkably educated, progressively developed country get it right? Tribalism.
Ultimately it’s a matter of whether the people in power are good or bad. Doesn’t really matter whether they won an election or ascended a throne, whether they’re an elected judge or an appointed one. They’re either good or bad.
But as multiple African countries show, today, there’s a lot of bad running democracies. Listen quick: I’m not saying authoritarian regimes are better than democracies. I’m just saying there can be just as much badness in democracy as in authoritarianism.