I pity Americans, for they are fast becoming a lot like our people

Tuesday April 28 2020

US President Donald Trump speaks during a news

US President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference on the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on April 27, 2020. PHOTO | MANDEL NGAN | AFP 

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Do you remember that ugly word, Schadenfreude?
Well, forget it for now , because I suspect you might want to apply it to the people who happen to have clueless Donald Trump as their commander-in-chief in these most trying times.

Let’s face it, it is only a rotten electoral calculus that made the Americans choose probably the most dangerous head of state in their history, and that should not make anybody happy just because many Americans are miserable, which is what that hideous German word suggests.

There is little room for Schadenfreude for me, first because I have many American friends and acquaintances, and they deserve better than this, and, second, looking around at our own choices, honestly, who has the right to be sniggering?

Electoral mistakes are not mortal sins according to my Bible, and these wrongs can be righted.

Also, we can settle for some comical relief, which goodness knows we need in these depressing times. In the tribal civil war that is being fought in the US this electoral year, we are bound to see the warriors in all sorts of colours and stances, and one that is becoming more visible these few days is the Trump versus Science tableau.

Yes, the American president, who must have put ‘r’ in arrogance, is taking on the scientific community with his junk medicine, all the while declaring, ‘I’m not a doctor… I don’t know…maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t… what do you lose?’


He has become, for all intents and purposes, America’s no.1 Sangoma, and the medical professionals around him look too scared to contradict him; those who do are given short shrift or summarily shunted aside.

We have heard him tout hydroxychloride as a possible cure for Coronavirus, and his own team have expressed serious reservations, but he will nor remain still. He has now gone on to suggest injection/ingestion of light and/or sun into the bodies of sufferers, which sounds okay, since it reminds one of the tropics, and maybe those who still can must go out some more and get ‘trumptreated’ at zero cost.

But there comes a time when even a joker of Oval Office proportions can go too far and cease to be the Falstaff that eases tensions in the drama. Such a moment came when the Sangoma actually suggested that the ingestion of a certain bleaching agent could kill the virus.

The manufacturers of the bleach alluded to were quick off the mark to distance themselves from any suggestion that their product could in any way cure the virus.

It is not hard to see the funk that these manufacturers were plunged into. The Sangoma heads the tribe that has systematically derided science and relied more on what the big shaman calls ‘my gut feeling’.

Now, just think for a moment what will happen if the tribe latches onto the message that a certain bleach actually gets rid of the virus.

Within hours, bottles of this bleach will all have flown off the shelves, and there will be hundreds of bodies with perforated intestines lying on the streets of the major cities of the US.

What the manufactures were/are responding to is the imminent danger of facing up to thousands of legal suits by the relatives of those who heeded the Sangoma’s remedies and died playing guinea-pigs.

America is one huge courtroom in which all manner of litigation, even the most bizarre, is entertained, but one such action brought by someone who believes he was led by the president to drink some sodium percarbonate would most likely be directed against the manufacturing company instead of the Oval Office.

I always remember that America is a great country, with a lot of brainpower, a lot of which has been fertilised, since the beginning, by grey matter from all over the world, as one can see from the television discussions during this time.

Despite this wealth of brains, America is also a place of debilitating superstition and mind-numbing obscurantism.

I believe that the Sangoma is not as dumb as he makes out to be, but rather it’s is a deliberate ruse to seduce the dumbest of his people, whose numbers are substantial, that he is one of them, fighting against Washington D.C. insiders, fake news, Barack Obama and the ‘China virus’. They will go wherever he tells them to go.

No, I have no reason for any feelings of Schadenfreude, since all that is happening is that Americans are becoming like us.

Jenerali Ulimwengu is chairman of the board of the Raia Mwema newspaper and an advocate of the High Court in Dar es Salaam. E-mail: [email protected]