For the sake of transparency, I need to be upfront about the origin of the title of this essay.
It is not coined by me but by an angry reader of my last article on the immediate past United States of America, USA president, Donald J Trump.
The piece was titled: “The Donald Trump That Africans Don’t Know” and it was first published in my column on the back page of Daily Independent newspaper on Tuesday 22 and subsequently on the back page of Thisday newspaper of Friday 25th November, 2022 as well as across multiple online media platforms.
Perhaps, owing to the fact that a stereotype opinion had long been formed about the 45th President of the US following several years of unmitigated public relations faux pax on the part of Mr Trump who never bothers to correct some misrepresentation of facts about him, my presentation of the persona of the former president of the US which is inconsistent with the mindset already shaped and propagated by a session of the Western media about Mr Trump, generated a mixed bag of vile and vicious attacks as well as enlightening and encouraging comments.
The anti Trump sentiments expressed against the article and my further comments are the subject of this follow up opinion piece.
So basically, the purpose or raison detre for this further intervention is to shed more light on the areas of contention via the reproduction of the points of view of those that vehemently disagree with me on the need to engage with the 45th president of the US who is poised to be the 47th by contesting for the office next year when the incumbent president, Joe Biden’s first tenure would be over.
As earlier stated,one particular critic made a case that l do not know Mr Trump well enough to warrant my trying to market him to blacks in the US and Africans on the continent, simply because they have already formed the opinion that Mr Trump is a racist and anti Africa.
It is a notion that l had tried to, and l am still aiming at changing by throwing more light on my good intentions which is to create a rapport between the former US president Trump and black Americans in particular and Africans in general for future mutual benefits to Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
In embarking on the mission, l am drawing on the conventional wisdom that the road to power is via diplomacy. That is why l have set for myself the task of working assiduously to mend the broken fence between the probable president of the US from next year via disabusing the minds of those who have literally declared him a persona-non-grata in Africa simply owing to the vile comment about Africa attributed to him.
These gentlemen and perhaps ladies that read the original article in which l tried to correct some myths about Mr Trump’s comments on Africa and Africans by putting things in context, strongly disagree with my submissions.
Their dissension was expressed in writing via the feedback platform of Thisday newspaper-Disqus.
Is it not astonishing that none of the commentators contradicted the fact that former president Trump’s policies and programs (2016-2020) had positively impacted the lives of African Americans in the US and people from the continent of Africa?
l had elaborated on the policies and programs implemented by Mr Trump in the article in question.
But rather than dwell on the former president’s pro African American policies that have positively impacted the black race in the course of Mr Trump’s four (4) years tenure ,the aggrieved responders to my last article in which l was advocating for the shifting of the relationship between ex president Trump from winter to summer modes, were apparently too piqued by his alleged negative comment about Africa that they were only prepared to judge Mr Trump on that basis, while blocking their minds to whatever good outcomes that his policies might have engendered.
What that suggests is that the critics are more interested in squaring up on the basis of bruised ego of Africans in light of the alleged demeaning comment about the continent by the 45th president of the US,than pursue the goal of befriending the likely president of the richest and most politically and economically strategic country in the world for the progress of Africa.
In fact, my agenda for proposing a thawing of the frosty relationship between the 2024 presidential hopeful, Donald Trump and American blacks in particular as well as Africans in general is self evident,so it can not be overemphasized.
Now,I am not unaware of the possibility that it may be a long shot for the former president to return to the White House next year in light of the political and legal battles currently staring the 45th US president in the face.
But no other candidate except Mr Trump has thrown his hat into the ring for the presidency in 2024. And given his high capacity to surprise pundits as no one gave him any chance to win the presidency in 2016, Mr Trump in my estimation remains the front runner in the 2024 presidential race in the US.
Thirteen (13) number of comments had been recorded on Thisday newspaper Disqus platform in response to my article as at the cut-off point of last Friday December 2,2023.
Six (6) number of comments were one or two sentences or concurrence of previous comments which l would not respond to because they do not merit such attention.
So l am sharing with readers seven (7)comments, some of which were copious and enlightening.
And l have reproduced them below along with my additional comments with the expectation that they would help to further illuminate the points that l tried to convey in my piece which has elicited a good dose of criticisms and accolades.
Off course the commentators did so anonymously, meaning that their true identifies are hidden.
The most likely reason for allowing folks to make comments on Disqus platform under a smokescreen is because it allows the authors the boldness to bare their fangs in no holds bared manner.
That way,since the proverbial ox that they may be gored would not know their identify,they would have no fear of consequences for their often mean comments.
Usually,vulgar words are deployed. So l would like to forewarn or make readers aware of the graphic nature of the language employed by placing a sort of caveat emptor on the comments being reproduced.
To maintain the originality, there is no editing of the comments and they are also reproduced in the order in which they were posted in Disqus platform.
The first (1) commentator identifies his /herself as ‘fakindum’ Below is his/her point of view:
“This is a load of shit.A failed apologia for Donald Trump. This animal said to my hearing that he preferred immigrants from “Norway” to those from “shit hole countries”. Now this hired writer is slicing and dicing his statements to show he loves Africa. How can it be a (sic) honour to be loved by this regrettable human?”
The piece is not an apologia for Mr Trump as the angry man has alluded.It is aimed at enlightening Africans about former US president Trump and also bringing him up to date about Africa.
As the saying goes: it is the light that the host brings to see the pilgrim in the dark that also enables the pilgrim see his host.
In other words, shinning the light on ex president Donald Trump would enable the potential president of the US understand Africa and indeed Nigeria better and vice versa.
I need not emphasis the infinite number of positive developments that could accrue to Nigeria if Mr Trump were to return to the White House in 2024 after gaining a better understanding of Nigeria and indeed Africa.
Worryingly, going by his comment, this fellow appears to have met Mr Trump face-to-face and has an axe to grind with him.
And the assumption above is derived from the choice of words used against him,which makes it obvious that the commentator is very bitter.
Yes, Mr Trump stated that he would prefer immigrants from Norway to those from ‘shit hole countries’.
But it is critical that we put into context the comparison between African and Norway, so that it can be better understood.
The truth is that Mr Trump had just hosted the prime minister of Norway the previous day in the White House before senator Dick Durbin led a team to the White House to discuss a sort of amnesty for undocumented Africans already in the US.
And his meeting with the Norwegian prime minister who he was very likely impressed by, might still have been fresh on his mind, hence he made the comparison which portrayed him in bad light because he should have controlled his emotions. But Mr Trump is like an open book and an unconventional president.
Being a Freudian slip,the White House walked back the comment.
That indicates to me that former president Trump might have been remorseful when he realized how offensive the utterance turned out to be.
Arising from the above, suggesting that Africa should be bellicose after an apology had been tendered even though it was not made directly,is stretching the concept of self assertion too far.
Rather than take a dog-in-the-manger posture,I would prefer to be guided by the wise counsel intrinsic in the book: Warrior Of Light by Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian novelist.
“A Warrior of Light values a child’s eyes because they are able to look at the world without bitterness. When he wants to find out if the person beside him is worthy of his trust, he tries to see him as a child would”
In any case ,which country in the world would welcome the rejects of other societies into their country as Mr Trump has categorized the illegal immigrants into the US?
To buttress my point about the universality of xenophobia or racism,l referenced how Ghana and Nigeria that are supposed to be Sister countries have been expelling and counter expelling each other’s nationals since the mid 1960s on multiple occasions depending on the economic fortunes or misfortunes of both countries.
With respect to the other allegation against me by the commentator “Now this hired writer is slicing and dicing his statements to show he loves Africa.”, it needs to be emphasized that the article in question “ The Donald Trump Africans Do Not Know”was written in the collective interest of Africa and Africans.
And it is a pity that fellow Nigerians find it impossible to believe that some people can do things altruistically.
The underlying reason for the negative mindset of most Nigerians on corruption may be because graft has become such a major issue in our society. In fact it has become so suffused with brazen acts of graft by leaders in public offices from the top of the ladder to the followers at the bottom of the rung,to the extent that the long suffering masses have had no option than to become obsessed with the suspicion that every action or motive by anyone must be dubious.
Which is why I would like to remind the angry fellow that decided to assail my integrity and personality,that in the nearly thirty years that I have engaged in writing and publishing in the mass media critical analysis of policies of government and the society at large,the public officers and private sector practitioners that l have focused on,ranging from president Olusegun Obasanjo, Umar Yar’dua of blessed memory,Goodluck Jonathan to Mohammadu Buhari,former senate president Bukola Saraki to my former boss and brother, James lbori, ex governor of Delta state;l have never solicited or received gratifications from anyone of them.
The same applies to Godwin Emefiele Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN governor, Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa, Jim Ovia who is the founder of Zenithbank group and Mike Adenuga, founder of GLO telecoms as well as Tony Elumelu, chairman of Heirs holdings and founder of UBA.
And I have at some point or the other, had the privilege of writing personality profiles about the aforementioned eminent personalities which are featured in my soon to be released book: Leading From The Stteets.Media Interventions By A Public Intellectual (1999-2019) which is a compendium of seventy seven (77) of my published articles since the return of multi party democracy in Nigeria,plus afterwords on the topics discussed in each of the seven (7)chapters of the book written by renown authorities on the issues covered in the respective chapters.
And none of identified Very Important Personalities, VIPs has offered me gratification, neither have l solicited such from them.
It needs being emphasized that my interest in trying to mend the broken fence between former president Trump of the US and Africa is a patriotic gesture aimed at serving the best interest of all.
As the saying goes: it is the same light that is shined to see a stranger that also enables he/she see his host.
In other words,shinning the light on Donald Trump would enable the potential president of the US understand Nigeria and Africa better and vice versa.
It is needless emphasizing the infinite number of positive developments that could accrue to Nigeria and indeed Africa if Mr Trump were to return to the White House in 2024.
The optimism for the good fortune alluded to above is reflected by the ground breaking achievements in boosting the relationship between the Jews and Arabs in the Middle East via assistance from his son-Inlaw (husband to Ivanka)Jared Kushner, during Mr Trump’s tenure as president in the white house.And I laid it all out in the original piece which l urge interested readers to read or conduct more research on the subject online.
The veritable accomplishments in the Israeli /Arab relationship in the Middle East are verifiable pointers to the warm relationship that the US could have with Africa and indeed Nigeria in the event that Mr Trump becomes the 47th president.
The second (2)commentator who identifies himself as ‘American Abroad’ made the following comment:
“In all fairness, original first-person reports from the Oval Office meeting, as first revealed by Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, was that President Donald Trump remarked, in reference to African immigrants, “Those shitholes send us the people that they don’t want.”
He absolved Mr Trump by admitting that “He apparently did not specifically mention country, countries or continent. That precise quotation had been fact-checked contemporaneously several times in the past. To otherwise deny the obvious, or attempt to sugarcoat Mr Trump’s extensive history of racial instigation and crass misogyny is disingenuous.
Furthermore, if you begin a serious intervention with an easily disprovable falsehood, it makes it extraordinarily difficult to give any credence to the rest of your homily, regardless of its underlying merits.”
Thereafter he gave a caution note : “Journalist, kindly respect the intelligence of your readers- and your own claim to dignity, if not veracity.”
Clearly,this commentator did his homework.So he is not glib because he took time to ferret out the true and correct statement made by Mr Trump which has been misrepresented as: “Africa is a shithole country “.
But he misunderstood me by assuming that l was making a case that Trump did not make a disparaging comment about Africa.That is far from the truth. I simply contextualized what Mr Trump said while also emphasizing that he was misquoted.
Thankfully he acknowledged that there are merits in the case that l tried to make in the piece,but he was disdainful in his presumption that l was denying that Mr Trump made a disparaging comment about Blacks and Africans.
‘American Abroad’ if you are reading this, thank you for digging up the truth.
We are both on the same page,but the only exception is that l disagree with you that Mr Trump should be crucified for being an unusual politician.We need to build bridges as opposed to burning them.
The third (3) commentator goes by the name ‘Oparafo Ugakwu’ who wrote the following:
“This level of low self esteem is stunning.It would be easier for Mr. Onyibe to lift the Olympus than to convince this forum that Donald Trump is not who he is. With this type of mentality from the so called Nigerian intelligentsia, the nation will continue to be ridiculed in the international community. Given his background, Mr. Onyibe could easily be made the Nation’s External Affairs Minister or an Ambassador, positions that would be readily exploited by demagogues and racists in power like Trump. Is there a better way to feed the beast?”
Again this a case of a victim of closed mind or mentality that is not willing or ready to see things beyond the jaundiced view that he has received.
That is unlike the previous commentator ‘American Abroad’ who made the effort to look beyond the surface by digging up the correct comment made by former president Trump in the White House to a particular audience.
What l have done is what a foreign affairs minister or ambassador does to build healthy and beneficial relationship between his country and strategic partners.The fact is that l seized an opportunity of meeting with the 45th president of the US planning to be the 47th by next year to see if l could build a bridge of friendship between him and my country and continent which he apparently knows pretty little about.
What ‘Oparaku Ogakwu’ may not be aware of,is a principle called strategic engagement in international relations or diplomacy.It is less about bluster or self bloated image and fragile egos.
But more about recognizing a challenge or opportunity and continuously engaging with the other party so that one can be abreast of the developments on their side with a view to taking proactive measures to forestall or embrace actions that could further jeopardize or strengthen existing relationships,as the case may be.
Imagine the US not remaining engaged with North Korea or lran because of the so called “high self esteem’ of former president Trump or current president Joe Biden.
It is a no brainer to figure out that the world would be under more serious threats of a nuclear Armageddon.
The truth is that l have identified a window of opportunity for Africa to warm up to the potential next president of the US, Mr Trump and l am exploring it by trying to smoothen the current fractured relationship that some Africans have with him through illumination of the differences causing the friction and correcting the wrong impressions.
The fourth (4) commentator who identifies as ‘Kawhi’ had the following to say:
“Wow Magnus, you’re obviously star-struck! The arrogant presumption that you know someone after a casual encounter at your friend’s daughter’s wedding is mind-boggling and I think the title of your article should be ‘The Donald Trump that Magnus Onyibe Don’t Know’. That you needed most of the article to weave a narrative of Donald Trump’s mindset and supposed thoughts,based only on a casual comment that Nigeria has a lot of oil (which an average fool in the world knows), is a pointer to your own inclination. In describing him as a business titan, you even capitalized the letter T in the word titan!”
“To know the Trump that most Americans know (after all they are his primary constituents), go read the submissions of his closest associates including his personal lawyers and those who served in the highest levels in his administration, and his family members.
Perhaps no better words have been used to describe Trump’s extraordinary moral and character failings than those by his longest serving Chief of Staff,General John Kelly after the events of January 6, 2021 (the definitive and most consequential event of his presidency, which you did not even bother to mention);”
And concluded with the admonition or wise counsel which l agree with:
“We need to look infinitely harder at who we elect to any office in our land. At the office seeker’s character, at their morals, at their ethical record, their integrity, their honesty, their flaws,what they have said about women and minorities, why they are asking office in the first place, and only then consider the policies they espouse.”
As readers might have noticed,he is the ‘copyright owner’ of the title of this article-“The Donald Trump That Magnus Onyibe Doesn’t Know”
Obviously,he wants me to only see things from the prism of Trump,s enemies or traducers that he listed (sour grapes) and neglect the perspectives of the over 74,222,958 Americans who believe in his politics and voted for him in the 2020 presidential election which amounts to 46.8% of the votes cast compared to the 81,283,098 vote or 51.3% cast for the winner,president Joe Biden.
He took umbrage at what he termed my casual meeting with Mr Trump and tried to savage me for assuming that such a casual encounter qualifies me to claim that l know him.
Is Ogakwu aware that sometimes it takes only a game of golf between a job seeker and a potential employer for a top CEO to get hired ?
In fact,most ministers in Nigeria are hardly previously known to the president and ditto for governors and their appointees as commissioners.
It might also interest the fellow who identifies as Ogakwu to know that I first met President Trump at his golf course in West Palm Beach,and the second time at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida during which l had significant conversations with him.
Ogakwu also stated that l was star-struck.
Who would not be ?
I have never met,wined and dinned with any president of the US,how much more a very charismatic and consequential one like Mr Trump. Before him,I had only attended an event where former president Bill Clinton was the keynote speaker and l didn’t have the privilege of having a conversation with him.
After all when our president Buhari met then President Trump in the White House when he was on a state visit during which he sealed the contract for the supply of super Tucano jets in 2018,he is not on record to have wined and dinned with him.
So why would l pretend that doing so with former president Trump did not excite me?
‘Bolovi’ is the name by which the fifth (5)commentator identifies himself.
Below is what he wrote:
“Thank you Mr. Onyibe. I was born in Nigeria and now a US citizen. President Trump did more for blacks than the first black President.The media went after him because they could not control him. The media made-up negative stories on him, and simple-minded, low information and emotional people believed it.”
Thank you too’Bolovi’ for your unbiased assessment.
The reality that we must all come to terms with is the fact that Mr Trump is a non traditional politician and some Americans are still trying to wrap their heads around his unique way of playing politics.
Evidently,his brand of politics is supported by at least 46.3 percent of US voters who elected Mr Trump as their president in 2016.
And apparently,Mr Trump does not really care much about public opinion and that reality is a validation of the belief that he is an unconventional politician.
Take for instance ,his recent invitation to lunch in his Mar-La-Go resort,the artist formerly known Kanye West now simply Ye who is an antisemite and Nick Fuentes a widely known antisemite and holocaust denier. That action basically validates the fact that Mr Trump is a none conformist.
Also,it would seem as if Mr Trump courts controversy. And if experience teaches us anything,that approach to politics works for him because all these hooplas may not count against him on the day elections.
The sixth (6)commentator that goes by the name:’Mystic mallam’ wrote the following:
“Mr. Magnus Onyibe,what’s your point – are you trying to persuade us that Trump loves Africa and Africans, that he’s not a rabid and bigoted racist? If that’s your objective, you have failed woefully, why? You have no idea whom Trump is, or what he represents to America’s Alt-right. Is hero-worship what they taught you at the Fletcher School you never stop touting as suffix to your name?”
I am not making a case that Mr Trump loves Africans.Rather my objective is to bridge the gap between Trump and African/blacks in the US through dialogue that could engender a more cordial relationship for mutual benefits.
The justification for my intervention has been made in my earlier responses.
Nevertheless,as we all know,racism against blacks in the US and neo colonialism against Africans did not start with Trump.It commenced with the enslavement of Africans by the Europeans and indeed the Western world over 400 years ago.
As a way of healing the wounds of the past,some states and cities,in the US have started to pay reparations to black Americans.
That indicates that racism is not a Trump creation,but he prefers to deal with it frontally than the old ways of pretending in Washington,DC to love Africans by traditional political actors via tokenism in the public,while working against blacks during closed door policy meetings.
lt is an attitude that Trump does not subscribe to hence he expressed his views about illegal African immigrants publicly.
The commentator also went low and cheeky by writing :”is hero worship what they taught you in Fletcher school that you never stop touting as suffix to your name”
Well,I am a proud alumnus of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy which is my alma mater.
Instead of being offended by the snide comment,l would like to enlighten my traducer that Fletcher is also the alma mater of former foreign affairs minister of Nigeria,Professor Bolaji Akinyemi who attended the school for his masters degree in 1966 before heading to the university of Oxford,United Kingdom,Uk for his PhD degree.
And the erudite professor never seizes to identify with his Fletcher pedigree in his public appearances.
And my good friends,Dr Rueben Abati ,Thisday newspaper columnist and AriseTv anchorman,as well as Mr Segun Adeniyi,Editorial board chairman of Thisday newspaper who is also a columnist,also identify themselves in similar fashion.
As a matter of fact,Dr Abati takes exception to being addressed without prefixing his name as an academic doctor and Adeniyi clearly states his role as chairman of Thisday newspaper editorial board under his name.
Same also applies to Dr Mike Ozekhome,who also writes a column for LAWYER,a Thisday newspaper weekly pull out with all his academic titles in array.
So it is a matter of style or branding if you like.
Is it not curious that the commentator who scoffed at me for using the suffix of my alma mater in my media Interventions did not express reservations about the fact that l also include that l was a cabinet member of delta state government (2003-2007) and that l am an entrepreneur.?
Apparently’Mystic Mallam’ is ready to live with that.
As for ‘Reem Haak’ who is the seventh (7)commentator, his view is:
“Donald Trump hates the way the Democrats patronise Africans and black people generally.What is the point of selecting a few blacks into Democrat’s government to convey the impression that Biden loves black people.Other African Americans keep insisting they are still largely marginalized. “
He emphasized that “Joe Biden’s understading of how to help the Africans is to allow them invade America.Biden believes in the system of exploitation of Africa and indeed Nigeria ,just because some Nigerians live and work in America.”
Raheem Haak argued further that
“ IT is only Donald Trump who has campaigned favourably for Africans and Nigerians developing their own countries just like Americans are doing to their own country.
Continuing,he made the point that “Joe Biden believes that America will carry the responsibilities of Nigeria through aid. Democrats release financial aid to Nigeria and it strengthens America’s right to dictate to Nigeria politically. “
His opinion is that: “So far, it is only the Republicans who have admitted that aid to Africa has been disastrous.This was the admission of George Bush after Africans complained that aid is always stolen by the officials.The Democrats and Joe Biden don’t even entertain such thoughts let alone act accordingly.
They believe Africans and Nigerians cannot think for themselves.”
In Raheem Haak’s conclusion “Donald Trump does not believe in the politics of patron-client relationship which has undermined the development of Nigeria till date.”
He then advocated that “The way out for Nigerians is to encourage politicians like Donald Trump who hate looters to become president. That is the only way Nigeria can be free from this needless crushing poverty devastating millions in Nigeria.”
I could not have put it better in an environment where a lot of us are not keen on thinking out of the box,but prefer to internalize and even swear by information that we did not check the motive of the purveyor to see if it had been tainted to suit an ulterior motive which may not be in the best interest of our country.
Obviously,most of the commentators views are shaped by what they have been seeing and hearing on CNN.
May l suggest that they should also spare some time to watch Fox News,the preferred television station of Republicans to see the other points of view to form a balanced opinion of Mr Trump?
I am not unmindful of the fact that the approach that l took for this follow up piece is unorthodox.But just as columnists sometimes adopt drama or satire style of writing when commenting on sensitive issues,the style that l have adopted is akin to democratization of free speech.
It is a Question and Answer format which l am hoping would help expand the sphere of knowledge of readers in order to enable them have broader,as opposed to pigeon hole perspectives of the important national and international issue of forging stronger relationships with the US which is usually accomplished mainly when they have located a military base in a country of strategic interest to them.
● Magnus onyibe,an entrepreneur,public policy analyst,author,development strategist,alumnus of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy,Tufts University, Massachusetts,USA and a former commissioner in Delta state government, sent this piece from lagos.
To continue with this conversation,pls visit www.magnum.ng