Donald Trump has fans in Africa. Not many, but still — actual supporters. Like this bit of Trump love coming from a Nigerian website.
It’s unclear what Trump himself thinks of any of Africa’s 54 countries other than one is “very dangerous,” while the rest are "far away" and brimming with deadly diseases. Also Barack Obama was born somewhere there, but is faking American citizenship.
So why does a candidate whose supporters scream “white power” online and call for black Americans to return to Africa at rallies appeal to anyone ~in~ Africa? Do they secretly hope the motherland will benefit from a black exodus?
Some of Trump’s rhetoric resonates among Africans watching the American election who are facing many of the same insecurities as those in the U.S. Firstly there’s the fear factor. Witness Trump’s take on South Africa. It may sound familiar to many.
It convinced at least 76 people in South Africa to sign up for the #SouthAfricaForTrump group on Facebook, which “caters for people who support free thinkers like Donald Trump.”
In this fan club's worldview, we're all hurtling toward a bloody showdown between Christian crusaders and ISIS-type radicals. Which is why Trump’s response — a no-nonsense “bomb the shit out of them,” then grab the oil approach — is appealing.
Trump also taps into the type of populism politicians spew everywhere, promising to upset the status quo.
That changed, Juma said, when he read a speech in which Trump allegedly promised to kick out long-time regional rulers Yoweri Museveni and Robert Mugabe for their “dictatorial tendencies.”
The supposed speech came just as a corruption scandal erupted in Kenya. “Then I realised Trump is just a patriotic American trying to play a unique type of politics. He doesn’t pretend like most of the world politicians,” Juma said. “I really like Mr. Trump and so do many poor and oppressed Kenyans here – we would like to see him deal decisively with corrupt leaders.”
There’s no evidence Trump actually pledged to remove any African leaders, though the alleged speech is still making the rounds online.
But there’s a grand irony in even imagining Trump overturning autocrats, given that he actually shares their classic personality traits. Call it the African strongman complex, or the Latin American “caudillo."
But its appearance in the U.S., in the form of Trump, is a new — and worrying — phenomenon. “I knew Africa’s despots…and I’m not laughing, I’m terrified,” Herman Cohen, a former U.S. ambassador and assistant secretary of state, told BuzzFeed News.
To Cohen, Trump mostly recalls Mobutu Sese Seko, former dictator of then-Zaire.
As in the U.S., some cite Trump’s avowed conservative Christianity as a good enough reason to wish him well at the elections, which is no surprise on the world’s most religious continent.
Ghanaian pastor Samuel Asante Beecham holds daily prayer sessions urging God to grant Trump the presidency, in part because he’s unlikely to “legalize gay marriage, which is bad.”
You can also see this kind of thinking mirrored in the way some Alabama Trump supporters approach complex issues affecting their fellow Christians in Africa.
Hardline conservatives and religious zealots aren't rare in Africa, but the ones who share Trump’s views enough to put up with his other…qualities are. There’s no hard data, but many probably agree with “Dumb Trump," a popular song in Ghana.
And for all the problems African countries do also face…
...South African satirist Zapiro has nailed the response of most on the continent tuning into the election:
Monica Mark is the West Africa Correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Dakar, Senegal.
Contact Monica Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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