“ Trump pulls stunning upset” — this was the headline across many news channels as the world woke up to news that Donald Trump had been elected the 45th President of the United States.
In Kenya, this presidential election was close to the hearts of many. Since President Barack Obama is one of our own and was rooting for Hillary Clinton, many of us were also for her.
Above all, we also mistakenly judged Trump as ‘unelectable’, based on his rather bellicose and abrasive language, which he displayed throughout the campaign.
But when the results trickled in and the math indicated Trump was headed for victory, many were left in utter disbelief.
We first went into denial, then some sort of anger and then resignation as the brutal reality sunk in — the man who had been written-off as unfit is undoubtedly the 45th President of the US. And we have to live with that.
When confronted by such an unexpected result, many people tend to mourn and curse. They even start losing faith in democracy. I wish to call upon fellow Kenyans to congratulate President-elect Donald J Trump on his stunning win in this election.
The reason he deserves our congratulations is because his victory is a reflection of the aspirations of the American people. He did not impose himself on them. He presented himself to the American people, stated his case and persuaded them to elect him.
As we reflect on this rather ‘shocking’ outcome, there are lessons we in Africa, and particularly Kenya, should learn and internalise going forward.
When I spoke to an American friend from whom I sought to understand how and why the American people voted the way they did, he told me Trump’s victory is indicative of a tectonic shift in world politics, and the faster African countries realisedthis, the better for them. It will enable them to prepare and manage the shift when it hits the continent.
The shocking Brexit vote that saw the British people vote to leave the European Union is a clear indication that more and more people around the world are getting tired of the status quo that prevails everywhere, and want things shaken up. Many governments have lost touch with the people.They don’t seem to want to know what the people are bothered about.
In order to have things shaken up, the people are looking for ‘champions’ who can have things rearranged even if it means bringing down the roof.
Trump and Boris Johnson, UK Foreign Secretary, are increasingly being seen as warriors who are bold enough to take risks in tackling the challenges that face their people head on.
In the US, Trump identified the main problem affecting the majority of the American people across the political divide— unemployment and the high cost of living. He spoke to the hearts of Americans, pointing out the perceived and real issues ailing them.
He promised them “brutality” in dealing with the problem. And since Americans like risk-takers and courageous warriors, Trump’s message resonated with the silent majority, unlike Clinton who appeared to be good in massaging the problem and too cautious. She spoke to the minds. and not the hearts of the people.
For us Kenyans, the lesson we need to take home is that the people, just like Americans and Britons, will soon get tired. People will soon look up to champions who will be brutally honest with them and tell them what is really ailing them and show them a clear path of how to rout those problems.
We need to prepare ourselves to accommodate the ‘shocking and unlikely’ Trumps and Johnsons that democracy is likely to bring our way. After all, this is what democracy is all about — the people choose the leaders they want.
The writer is the deputy secretary general of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM).