Op-Ed

I’m From 'The Land of Genocides' and This Election Makes Me Nervous

Karl Chris Nsabiyumva, known on Twitter as Mr Burundi, on his post-Election Day thoughts and how Donald Trump's victory troubles him.

Voting is irrational.


People vote with their emotions, their fears and their frustrations.

I used to think this was only true for Burundi—or rather, for third world countries where the masses are “uneducated,” “too conservative” and “superstitious.”

On Nov. 9, my adopted country proved me wrong by electing Donald Trump president of the United States of America.

As he gave his surprisingly sober victory speech, I refused to believe that Trump had actually won. I kept hoping that the yet-to-be counted votes would turn out to be in favor of Hillary. I was hoping for a miracle.

While I’m not a Clinton fan, I did believe in “the lesser of two evils” and I expected America to think the same way. But when I saw Trump’s numbers rising as they did, I started to question the little hope I had left in America and its people.

I’m actually something of a right wing centrist as far as my political inclinations go. Hence, Trump’s victory wouldn’t have meant anything to me if his only fault was lack of experience. Inexperienced and not-so-smart people get elected to run countries all the time. What I didn’t expect was that the American people would let a divisive bigot anywhere close to the White House, for the sake of safeguarding American values, you know, like tolerance. It’s supposed to be “One nation under God" after all. I was obviously very wrong, and this scares me.

It’s now obvious that a good chunk of Americans actually identify with or supports the things Trump says. As an African asylum seeker in the United States, this is rather frightening. On one hand, it’s scary because I’ve tasted the fruits of intolerance fueled with divisive and hateful political propaganda. I’m from “the land of genocides,” the African great lakes region, home to Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

I’ve lost family members and friends to genocide and war. I’m in the United States now because some people couldn’t tolerate my opinions and threatened my life. I know what hate can do; and if my own people can go as far as killing their own, how safe can I feel in this land where I’m surrounded by folks who look nothing like me?

It’s sad how in 2016, with all the knowledge and resources available in the country, there are still this many people who believe that exclusion is the road to prosperity. In a country that was built by immigrants and slaves brought from another land it’s hard to understand the depth of this xenophobia.

There is relief in one thing though. I’m consoled by the fact that Americans are not so different from many of my fellow Africans. It is obvious that many Americans are just as frustrated, angry, scared, desperate and uncertain about their futures as many of my brothers and sisters in Africa. This is why sensible decision-making seems to be a luxury in this part of the world too.

People don’t care if the president can do the job, or if he represents good values. Nobody has time for image, appearances, political correctness and other superficialities. Desperate times call for desperate measures! “Me first!” is the new motto.

The 2016 US Presidential elections reminded me of one of favorite Bible verses: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV).

The 2016 US Presidential elections have made America feel, yet again, like home.

Popular
Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Cassper Nyovest’s 20 Best Songs Ranked

The 20 best songs from Cassper Nyovest's growing catalogue.

Cassper Nyovest recently released his fifth studio album, A.M.N. (Any Minute Now). Announced in June 2020, he revealed that the title of the album refers to the impending birth of his son at the time, whom he said would be born "any minute now". His son was eventually born on September 13, two days after the album was released.

The South African rapper, in a conversation with media personality Pearl Thusi over IG Live, shared his opinion on the subject, saying that A.M.N. is his best offering.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Interview: Wavy The Creator Is Ready to See You Now

The multidisciplinary Nigerian-American artist on tapping into all her creative outlets, creating interesting things, releasing a new single and life during quarantine.