Displayed with permission from allAfrica.com
ON A NIGHT when the US state of Minnesota elected the nation’s first Somali-American lawmaker, Ilhan Omar, the country regarded as the Godfather of the world voted into office a man whose campaign characterized him to be the most racist, misogynistic, bigoted, xenophobic, tax-dodging and a foul-mouth notoriously regarded for disrespecting women as its 45th President.
TRUMP’S RIDE to Tuesday’s night unexpected victory against the Democratic Frontrunner, Hilary Rodham Clinton was without controversy, distrust and disdain from many on the continent of Africa.
IN LIBERIA, which has enjoyed cordial relationship with Washington under President George W. Bush and his successor Barrack Obama, support for Mrs. Clinton was massive and critique of the Trump candidate overwhelmingly massive.
BUT MR. TRUMP has not been without his supporters, even amid his refusal to practice transparency and accountability, two virtues Washington have been aggressively pressing against African governments.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said on Wednesday she was saddened by the fact U.S. voters had not elected a woman president, and expressed concern about what President-elect Donald Trump’s policy toward Africa would be.
Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman to be elected a head of state in Africa, said: “We are extremely saddened by this missed opportunity on the part of the people of the United States to join smaller democracies in ending the marginalization of women.”
In an interview with BBC television, she said that Liberia, a nation founded in the 19th century by freed American slaves, had a long and historical relationship with the United States and she expected that to continue.
“We are concerned as to whether President-elect Trump will have an African agenda, will be able to build bridges with Africa. We can only hope that he will do so in due course.
“I’m worried about trade deals for Liberia, for Africa. I’m worried about investment and the special programs that have been put in place by President Obama and by President George Bush before him, and we just don’t know what the policy towards Africa will be.”
KENYA’S PRESIDENT UHURU KENYATTA, in a statement said:
“The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly. They have chosen Donald Trump as their 45th President. Kenya congratulates Mr Trump for his victorious campaign, and his main opponent, Mrs Hillary Clinton, for her valiant effort. The ties that bind Kenya and the United States of America are close and strong. They are old, and based in the values that we hold dear: in democracy, in the rule of law, and in the equality of peoples. These values remain dear to the peoples of both nations, and so our friendship will endure.”
SOUTH AFRICA’S JACOB ZUMA remarked that he is looking forward to working with President-elect Trump to build on the strong relations that exists between SA and USA while Nigeria’s Muhammad Buhari also said he too is looking forward to working together with President-elect Trump to build on and strengthen relations between Nigeria & the USA.
RWANDA’S PAUL KAGAME tweeted congratulatory messages to Mr. Trump for a well-earned victory and also said he too is looking forward toward continued good relationship with the U.S.
GABON’S ALI BONGO, and the leaders of Tanzania and Burundi were also among those showering Mr. Trump with congratulatory messages.
WHILE TRUMP DID not have a spelled-out Africa policy on the campaign trail, many political analysts expect a tough stance against corruption and hardened leaders on the continent: “I really like Nelson Mandela but South Africa is a crime ridden mess that is just waiting to explode-not a good situation for the people!,” Mr. Trump once tweeted, in a clear sign that many African nations will have a tough time under President Trump.
IN ANOTHER TWEET ON JULY 2013, Mr. Trump ranted: “Every penny of the $7 billion going to Africa as per Obama will be stolen – corruption is rampant!”
HE TWEETED AGAIN IN JULY 2015: Obama is in Africa pledging 1billion dollars to help them. How about that money to help America. Trump for POTUS.”
QUARTZ AFRICA SUGGESTED Wednesday that Africa could fall off the map under a Trump Presidency: “Trump’s hawkish views on terrorism could also have negative impacts for Africa. While the Obama administration’s failure to address the power vacuum created by Muammar Gaddafi’s death in Libya allowed Islamic extremist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda to take advantage of regional disorder, the Trump administration could go to the other extreme, advocating militarized responses to potential terror threats. That type of approach would be a boon for terrorist recruiters in Africa, and authoritarian leaders on the continent and around the world.”
FOR LIBERIA, WHICH has received millions of aid under president Bush and the Obama administration, aid and financial assistance could tumble under a Trump presidency. But most importantly, many fear that a bleak future is awaiting thousands of Liberians currently on the Deferred Deportation or Temporary Protective Status(TPS) which has been annually renewed by President Obama and previously by President Bush.
THAT REPRIEVE HOWEVER comes to an end in May 2017 and the Obama administration has already cautioned citizens of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to prepare to return home after it comes to an end. “Although TPS benefits will no longer be in effect starting May 21, 2017, TPS beneficiaries will continue to hold any other immigration status that they have maintained or acquired while registered for TPS. DHS urges individuals who do not have another immigration status to use the time before the termination becomes effective in May to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States or to apply for other immigration benefits for which they may be eligible,” The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement in September.
THE TRUMP VICTORY have no doubt dealt a massive blow to many. For Diaspora Liberians, however, it should mark a time to take stock of priorities, opportunities, responsibilities and perhaps a page from the book of the Somali communities in America and Canada. The elections of Ilhan Omar in Minnesotta and the recent election of Mr. Ahmed Hussein as a member of parliament in Canada show that Somalis are adopting wisely while some Liberians are busy chattering away on social media like Facebook, putting down one another and failing to support each other by mobilizing themselves into a unifying force to make changes that will affect their communities.
THE ALTERNATIVE should have been finding a single voice to push for permanent residency or citizenship instead of settling and being content with a deferred deportation whose clock is ticking as the dreadful era of the Trump presidency nears.