Inauguration 2017: at least we’re not The Gambia

If it wasn’t for Nelson Mandela, the Ebola Virus and elephants, 95% of Americans probably would know almost nothing about Africa.

For example, I’d fathom to guess that the average American does not realize that nearly half of Africans are Muslim.

Or that the movie Casablanca takes place in Africa.

Or that the Southern tip of Spain is less than eight nautical miles away from mainland Africa.

The difference between the United States and Africa is stark, from the people, to the culture, to the living conditions. When you look at the World Health organization’s 2015 rankings of countries by life expectancy, all but six of the bottom 50 countries are in Africa.

That’s stunning.

And in an America that’s growing ever more concerned with itself, and not countries from afar, it’s no surprise how poorly educated we are on our African brethren.

Though, we do have a prominent South African in Trevor Noah hosting the prime time “Daily Show” to give us a little insight into African happenings. But even those are few and far between.

Unfortunately, when we do hear about news in Africa, it’s usually not good. Like the migrant crisis. Or an attempted uprising in the Ivory Coast.

Or, in today’s news, the ousted president in The Gambia refusing to cede power.

yahya-jammeh

For 90 percent of the people reading this, congratulations, you’ve just learned a new country! The Gambia sits in northwest Africa, completely surrounded by Senegal and the Atlantic Ocean.

Its president for the last 22 years, Yahya Jummah, has been accused of humans rights violations including the jailing and murder of political opponents, and once said he found a cure for AIDS consisting of herbal paste and a banana. He’s also claimed he’d lead The Gambia for billions of years.

Well, last month, he lost an election. And even though he initially said he’d accept the election results, he’s apparently changed his mind.

And now, neighboring African nations are moving to intervene, potentially setting the stage for a violent conflict, and causing tens of thousands of Gambians to flee the country.

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump compared America to a “third world country.” No Mr. Trump, this is what a third world country looks like. And ironically, this is probably similar to what he might have done had he lost this election.

We change presidents on Friday.It’s going to be a tough day for a lot of people.

But amid all of the contention and controversy this past year, we are still witnessing our country’s most storied tradition: a peaceful transition of power.

We take a lot of things for granted living in America. And though a lot of people are extremely unhappy with the results of the election on Nov. 8, the fundamental layers of our democracy remain as strong as ever.

A lot of the credit belongs to Barack Obama, who is handling the transition with class, even if he’s had quite a busy last few days cementing his legacy with pardons, commutations, troop deployments to Eastern Europe and Guantanamo Bay prisoner transfers.

We have a lot of things to worry about in our lives. And watching Donald Trump being sworn in on Friday won’t make life much easier.

But knowing that the stability of our political process is not one of those things is a nice thought. Because in many places in Africa, like The Gambia, they don’t get to experience that.

So my liberal friends, toughen up. You’re unhappy, we get it. I’m there with you, too.

But still try to realize on Friday that we live in the best country in the world, and that’s not changing anytime soon.

And if you can’t do that, well, it’ll be a Friday, so just go to a bar after work and get wasted.

Cheers.

 

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