Rosie Awori (LJI)
This year 2021, will see more than 15 countries across the Africa heading to the polls to elect new leaders. Election seasons in the African continent often see investors withdrawing from their host countries because of the fickle nature of the African polls.
Usually, observers from the EU and the United States are dispatched to watch the election and write eye catching headlines on the meek evolution of elections in Africa. This year though, the African continent watched as one Donald Trump singlehandedly regressed “democracy,” in the world’s most “democratic” nation and some nations like Uganda didn’t give room for American observes to come and watch their elections.
Just like everyone else, Africans watched Proud Boys and other Trumpsters as they stormed the capital trying to ensure that the results aren’t compromised. They felt justified in climbing walls because they couldn’t imagine sitting aside and watching as their candidate is ‘robbed’ of his rights.
In Kenya, during the 2007/2008 elections the opposition leader was ahead for a good amount of time during the tallying process, it looked like he had it in the bag. Then came a power outage at 6 PM and when the electricity came an hour later, the incumbent was being sworn in. And the opposition leader’s supporters couldn’t believe they had been robbed and so the country burned.
Only God knows who won the elections but the right to demonstrate was exercised and exaggerated resulting in bloodshed, death and a trial at the Hague. Western press went wild and even though in 2013 the country saw a fairly peaceful election. Some media houses were quoted as referring to Kenya as a “hotbed of violence.”
On Thursday January 14, Uganda took to the poll and just before the country saw an Internet shutdown which the incumbent, Yoweri Museveni called for in order to keep the “peace.”
It could be that Museveni is sweating and maybe sees that his 35 year reign may come to and an end. His opponent Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as Bobi Wine, a 38-year-old musician who has faced arrest, obstruction and gunfire on the campaign trail has gained popularity among the people with his criticism of the current regime and its economic shortcomings.
Africa watched the United States show their slip as Trumpsters scaled walls to ‘help’ their man in Washington. Their response is perhaps just like them, the United States has holes in its democracy, and they shouldn’t be quick to pen salacious articles pointing fingers at Africans during their voting season.
Perhaps as COVID ravages and equalizes us as humans, these are instances to find lasting solutions to the problems that afflict all of us as humans, not Africans or Americans, humans.
Recent events have shown that this is not just an African problem.
Democracy has been under threat for a long time, these problems have been bubbling under the surface, racism, tribalism and all these other isms are commonalities that many nations share even if we don’t want to admit it.
But perhaps just like COVID-19 because it touched other nations and not just Africa, scientists then rushed to formulate a vaccine, and now that the American democracy has been bruised, we can now have those painful discussions on reparations in America and even in Africa where the European hand remains heavy in some countries.