Africa has long regarded the United States as paradise on earth. When African dictators oppressed their citizens or curtailed the freedom of the press, African activists petitioned American embassies across the continent, demanding justice.
The United States was perceived as the ideal place on earth for democracy, the separation of powers and election sanctity. It was where the freedom of the press and all humans, including women, was expected to be respected. It was also a country where efficiency was expected to take place.
Africans never associated the United States with massive corruption, election rigging and police brutality. It was simply the ideal place on the planet. It was the place to be.
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America was respected and seen as a partner for the weak; the voice of the voiceless and the hope of the hopeless.
American presidents were often seen as morally upright and almost blameless.
When Africans saw American presidents release their tax returns, they often pointed to that simple act to demand that their own leaders make their assets public as well.
When some African leaders tried to rig elections or prevent people from voting, Africans activists turned to the United States for help, and to the U.S. president to call their leaders to order.
However, under the Donald John Trump presidency, all that has vanished. Africans now look at the United States with pity, anger and shock.
When Trump labels American journalists the enemies of the American people, many Africans have to confirm they are not watching an African dictator trying to silence the media to steal public funds and rig elections.
When they see the American president try to prevent people from voting safely amid coronavirus, they scratch their heads in disbelief.
When they hear Trump praise police for shooting blacks, praise the racists for killing anti-racist protesters, they ask themselves where is freedom in America? Where is justice? Where is fairness or humanity? What has befallen the United States?
When they see Trump refuse to release his tax returns for fear of getting caught for alleged fraud, or appoint his children to White House positions, as well as his in-laws, many in Africa wonder where is the United States we used to love and respect?
American leaders were generally known to talk about Africa with respect and compassion, but these days, when Africans hear that Trump is referring to Africa as a shit-hole place, and that he is denigrating Nigerians by alleging they would not go back to ‘their huts’ once they see the United States, many Africans wonder what has happened to the United States. Where is the dignity? Where is the decency?
When Africans also see Americans being evicted from their homes because they cannot pay rent or go hungry because the government has failed to take care of the unemployed, many wonder where is the richest country on earth?
What is worse is that many Africans find it hard to understand how a country that can send people to the moon and bring them back to earth find it hard to have a nationwide plan to tackle the coronavirus.
They see the numbers explode everyday and the American president brag that he has done an amazing job, and they wonder what is the value of an American life?
On Monday, the United States passed six million confirmed cases of the coronavirus and more than 183,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic 221 days ago, according to Johns Hopkins University.
In the past one week alone, more than 6000 Americans have died from COVID-19, even as President Donald Trump has continued to declare victory and patting himself on the back over his response to the pandemic.
Health experts have warned that more Americans could die in the fall when coronavirus and common flu hit the country at the same time.
The United States has the worst death rate and highest number of infections in the world, the result of a bungled response by Donald Trump, who for months, described the virus as a hoax, undermined health experts, rejected wearing of masks, held big gatherings with no social distancing and no masks, like the one he held at the White House on Thursday.
Mr. Trump’s opponent in the November presidential election, Joe Biden, has taken a different approach. He’s wearing a mask, social distancing, recommending wearing of face masks to others, social distancing measures and listening to science.
Biden has also accused Trump of giving up on the U.S.’s efforts to control the disease’s spread, saying that the president “raised the white flag.”
“He has no idea what to do. It’s zero. It’s only one thing he has in mind – how does he win reelection? And it doesn’t matter how many people get COVID and or die from COVID because he fears that if the economy is strapped as badly as it is today that, in fact, he is going to be in trouble,” the former vice president told MSNBC.
Biden and Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris have both said they would listen to science if elected to defeat the greatest health crisis America has faced in more than 100 years.
In a recent Axios interview, President Trump claimed the virus was “under control as much as you can control it” in the U.S. “They are dying, that’s true. And you have – it is what it is,” Trump said earlier in August. “But that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing everything we can. It’s under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague.”
Africans who watch the coronavirus debacle in the United States feel pity for the greatest country on earth.
Many finally understand that what has made America great for centuries has been a great leadership, which is missing at the moment.
May God help the United States.