Trumps Victory and the Uganda connection

Moses Odokonyero_closeup pix

The writer, Moses Odokonyero

Unthinkable as it seemed at the beginning of the American presidential campaigns, Donald John Trump is the president- elect of the powerful United States of America.

Only days before voting, President Obama derided Trump as a man who could not be trusted with his own Twitter account. At the time media reports had emerged that Trump aides had taken over control of his Twitter for fear of the pompous president-elect’s early morning tweeting of his raw mind. How can a man who cannot be trusted with managing his Twitter feed be trusted with nuclear codes, was Obama’s message.

Well, soon, Trump, like Obama before him, will have his fingers on the nuclear codes and in theory can wipe away the world with a nuke strike, thanks to the American people.

My outsider perspective about American politics is informed by books and what I have over the years watched, read and listened to from the mainstream American media which backed Clinton. But the American media, like Clinton, is licking its wounds after a beating from Trump.

‘‘How did we get it all so wrong,’’ Anderson Cooper of CNN pondered Tuesday morning. The tone of the CNN anchor and the pundits analysing the election results had began to change with the potential of a Trump presidency becoming a reality.

By end of Tuesday, the off mark American media and its punditry machine had egg over its face.

‘‘It turns out that we were wrong,’’ wrote Nobel Laureate and New York Times columnist  Paul Krugman in a short  essay with a somber mood ‘‘There turn out to be a huge number of people — white people, living mainly in rural areas — who don’t share at all our idea of what America is about. For them, it is about blood and soil, about traditional patriarchy and racial hierarchy.’’

Rural people! Blood and soil!  Traditional patriarchy! Racial hierarchy (in Uganda’s case tribal hierarchy)! And it all begins to sound familiar to the Ugandan ear.

The outcome of the American election, it can be said, was determined by factors that also determine Ugandan elections: exploitation of the disconnect among voters. Urban and educated voters are driven by the lofty ideals of constitutionalism, equity and justice while rural and poorer voters are concerned with base instincts.

Rural people! Blood and soil! Whenever its hold on power is threatened, the NRM coils and retreats to Luweero to seek legitimacy. Sacrifice was made in Luweero, blood was spilled on the soils of Luwero, Ugandans are reminded.

Trump appealed to the self-serving instincts of Americans. It is what Museveni has been doing for ‘‘ages with his peasants’’

What lessons can Uganda’s ‘‘can we do a coffee class’’ learn from Trump’s clobbering of the American elite? Technology has expanded our world but it has also narrowed it: the algorithms of Facebook and other social networking sites are likely to connect us with people who are like us. Each day electronically generated emails pop up in my inbox suggesting people to connect with. The suggested connections are journalists, writers, media professionals, academics and the NGO type.  Unless they move out, technology risks keeping the Uganda elite in closed groups but with the mistaken belief that they have their fingers on the pulse.

Museveni is always lambasted for the ‘‘silly mistakes’’ he repeatedly makes like his recent demonstration of how to irrigate using a ‘‘Stone Age’’ method or his dishing of money in sacks to youth. In the campaigns for the US presidency, Trump lurched from one scandal to another.  But he still won, implying his scandals were only scandalous in the eyes of the American elite and not the American ‘‘peasant.’’

 Mr Odokonyero has interests in media development, communications & public affairs