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What just happened???

November 13, 2016

It’s been a week that can only been described as a bag of mixed emotions in the sense that many unexpected things happened that have elicited different emotions from different people. For instance, it has been a week of sadness here in Tanzania as we woke up to the news of the demise of one of my favorite politicians, the former Speaker of the Parliament of Tanzania. I had a chance to meet him close to a decade ago when traveling from Tabora to Dar Es Salaam. We happened to sit next to each other on the plane and I must say it was not a dull trip. He kept me laughing throughout the trip as he shared different experiences he had gone through in his life, and I have to admit it was quite refreshing to meet such a down to earth person.

Unfortunately those days we did not have phones with cameras, otherwise I’d have taken a selfie with him. He was an amazing person and I loved watching him do his thing in parliament. I have to admit that he is the one who made me get used to watching Bunge. I just loved listening to his Swahili; he made Swahili sound sexy. And then there was the way he handled the sessions in Bunge.... So it was a shock to me when I woke up to the news that he was no more.

The country has indeed lost an amazing person and I join the rest of the country in mourning the now late Mr Samuel Sitta. May your soul rest in eternal peace Sir.

Then from the sad news we moved on to the weird news, news that the world now has a scary new president. I know what you are thinking; what do you mean the president of the world? Well, if you ask me, it does not matter where in the world you may be but if something negative happens to the United States of America, its effects are felt the world over. To me, I always feel like the USA is the headquarters of the world. Anyway, that’s my personal view. 

Now going back to the new president of the world, I still don’t understand how we got to this point, but I guess we should have known anything is possible the moment he became the flag-bearer for his party. Or could it be that he won because the west is not ready to settle for a female president? That too could have had an impact. But I do not want to go into deep politics of what happened, how it happened and who made it happen. However, there are some statistics I saw that made me really think about what could have been if everyone eligible to vote had voted.

According to the above statistics shown on MSNBC sourced from United States Election Project, the voter turnout rate was as follows:

  • 46.9% - Did not vote
  • 25.6% - voted for Clinton
  • 25.5% - Voted for Trump
  • 1.7% - Voted for Johnson

Forget the votes that were cast for Clinton, Trump and Johnson. Let’s look at the votes that were not cast; the 46.9%. This figure is close to half the registered eligible voters. So what happened to them? Why didn’t they vote? Of course there could be some genuine reasons such as someone had traveled out of the country at that point, or they were sick in bed, or some of the voters were dead, etc. But even if we were to assume the worst, is it possible that all 46.9% were unavailable to vote all at the same time, especially considering the USA has a platform that allows people to start voting earlier? I don’t think so. So why did they not vote?

If you ask me, they are the reason the country is in shock. I strongly believe that those 46.9% votes could have changed the story. Now the USA has gotten an unusual president-elect, someone whose ideals have scared nearly half of the country and a large chunk of the world at large. This fear was so evident when the Canadian immigration website crashed following the numerous applications they were receiving from the USA. Not just that, the stock market went insane, not to mention how anti-Trump protestors took to the streets. This is the same exact panic that was experienced when BREXIT happened. No one thought it would actually happen but it did. Similarly, very few people thought Trump would win, but he did.

So, are there any lessons to learn from the recently concluded USA elections? Several, but today I choose to focus on three.

The first thing that comes to mind is the fact that if you want something to happen, you have to make it happen yourself. If you have a dream, if you have a vision do not expect someone else to realize it for you. You have to do the work yourself. You have to do whatever it takes to make it happen.  This goes in line with a quote I read from an anonymous writer who said, “if you don’t make things happen, things will happen to you”. If you don’t understand what I mean, then ask the 46.9% of Americans who did not cast their votes.

Another lesson we learn is that bad things happen when good people do nothing.  A sequel to this school of thought is that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. Do I need to say more? Good people kept quiet by not voting and we now have a triumphant Trump waiting to take the helm of the most powerful country in the world. And the nuclear codes too.....

Another thing we need to realize is that overconfidence is a dangerous thing. If you ask me, it’s not just the Clinton camp that thought she would win with a landslide. If you ask 75% of the world, they thought she would win too. They never saw her losing with a landslide. She and her supporters underestimated Trump. She also underestimated what half of America thought and what they felt about her. I think she was overconfident, a situation that caused her to lower her guard and as a result she became complacent. I think she expected this to be easy for her considering she was a seasoned politician, while Trump was just a businessman.  Well, the worst did happen. The businessman stole the show from the seasoned politician. Who would have thought that would happen? Trump did. Which brings me to my next lesson…

In 1998, the People Magazine quoted Donald Trump as having said this; “If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They are the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific”.  And he did and won. As if to confirm that he meant what he said in 1998, in September 2014, Trump twitted something that sounded very arrogant to say the least. This is what he said:

.....And they did.

The lesson I derived from these two scenarios is that Trump had done thorough due diligence before taking this road. He knew which party to attach himself to, he knew what TV station to use as his media, I mean, he is a businessman and a shrewd one at that. Question to you is, before you do anything, before you follow your dream, do you do your due diligence? Do you know who your opponents are and the best strategic places to place your services or products if you were to go into business? Even though I do not condone his arrogance or his way of addressing issues and people, I have to commend Trump for his strategies. He knew exactly what to do and where. He knew where not to attach himself and whom to avoid. And we now see the results.

Like I always say, there is always a lesson to be learned in everything we go through in life. The US elections have many lessons we can learn but for today, I choose to rest there.

This week I’d like to end this article by quoting Tommy Lasorda who said, “there are three kinds of people in this world: people who make it happen, people who watch what happens, and people who wonder what happened”.

Don’t get caught by surprise. Be the one to surprise others.


PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 13th November, 2016, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".



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