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The American Presidential election of November 3, 2020 was a referendum for my sanity

Let me explain why the US Election of November 3 gave me high blood pressure

The American Presidential election of November 3, 2020 was a referendum for my sanity. I don’t exactly know how I arrived at such a strange process of validating and certifying my sanity with an election taking place in a country that six to seven time zones away from me, but that was the precarious condition I found myself: had the incumbent president, Donald Trump won that election, I would have concluded something was wrong with me.

Thankfully he didn’t win; in fact, he lost! I was so relieved that twilight when CNN’s BREAKING NEWS anchor, Wolfe Blitzer called the election in favour of Joe Biden that painful insomnia that I had battled from the night of November 3 transformed into a celebratory sleeplessness.

I was a wreck of an insomniac for more than five days, not sleeping a wink two days to the election until November 7 when the election was called. It was horrible. My body has never been tensed as it was during that period; my blood pressure was running riot. I did not have to go for a check to know my BP was shooting to dangerous levels; I felt it with my increased palpitations and my palms that became increasingly “hot”.

President Joe Biden

I was worried for myself. I remember I was in Abuja, planning for an event when I was going through this. My nights became something I desperately looked forward to in inexplicable trepidation. I wanted to sleep, yet, I also looked forward to news of the outcome of an election that many of my Nigerian brothers frequently wondered what our stake and interest truly was? The television set in my rook hardly moved to any other channel. I am not a great fan of Africa Magic movie channels and I was also avoiding the Sports channels because Arsenal was at that end, dishing such historically unusual disappointing results I struggled to lock out my darling club from my thoughts.

I even tried to shut-out CNN from my thoughts but was dismally unsuccessful in this enterprise. As a matter of fact, I yielded to the rhetoric of Nigerian Trumpers that CNN was broadcasting falsehood and that the numbers pointed towards a Trump win by watching FOX News in between times on my phone. This made me stay up all night, fixated to the television like something held by glue! Times were when I’d just switch off the TV in easily defeated determination to sleep: my heart would be pounding so loud I could hear it thumping away in its secret place in my rib cage. No one ever gets to sleep with his heart pounding so deafeningly loud.

I worried for myself and futilely tried all the anti-insomnia therapies I knew: I did the one about counting from one to 10 and back to one; I did the one of imagining a pendulum clock swinging dizzyingly before me: I switched my sleeping positions to those recommended by those only motivational speakers and therapists, but none worked. I was held down by the sickeningly invidious possibility of a Trump victory.

“Should Trump win this election,” I kept hearing myself telling myself, “it would mean something is wrong with me.” My perilous condition was not helped by the slew of conspiracy theorists and Nigeria prophets falling over themselves in a desperate conspiracy to deepen my misery. To balance my thoughts and be sure I was not being fed with deliberate left-wing propaganda by CNN, I increasingly burnt data watching FOX News online, and while I found some of their positions and perspective a bit “crazy,” I could rest on the comfort of CNN overly optimistic perspective too.

Desecration of America at the president’s instigation

I did not support Trump in 2016 when he defeated Hilary Clinton. I didn’t quite like Hilary, but I felt she was a better candidate. I could not relate with Trump, a man I then, had concluded had such limited vocabulary he just didn’t cut the image of a typical America President. Yes, I read a few reports about how Americans psychologically are drawn to presidential candidates that are six-footers, but I never believed Trump, with his poor gift of the garb would ever convince the “advanced” people of this advanced country to vote for him.

It was months, perhaps a few years later, that I began to read about how a company called Cambridge Analytica was hired to inflict digital lunacy on Americans, making most of them to not vote for Clinton’s wife, even when they didn’t vote for her opponent. I therefore told myself that this lightening cannot strike twice at the same spot; I hoped, rather than felt, there was no way he was going to win again in 2020 – not with the findings that Facebook and Cambridge Analytica illegally used people’s date for dubious election manipulations; not with the investigations about the collusion of Russia in the manipulation of the elections; not even for the respect he appeared to have for Vladimir Putin, the human embodiment of American superstition.

In the end, 75 million Americans voted for this guy. And this 75 million people were prepared to irredeemably fracture their country to reverse the election for a man I thought was going to be flung out of the White House very hurriedly by the people!

Who’d have thought a day would come when the symbolism of the American Ark of Covenant would be invaded by wild-eyed fanatical citizens trying to upturn election results?

Something has happened to America. Something terrible has happened to this country that used to be the beacon of democracy to the world. In Nigeria, the standards for governance and propriety are generally picked from this country. If you ever get a job as a broadcaster and you don’t have an American accent, chances are you’d have to get one “somehow-somehow.” When out sophisticated social and political critics use the expression, “saner climes” in drawing analogies to the many ills plaguing our environment, America is that saner clime at the back of their minds.

But this is the America that almost could not conduct its own election after nearly 25o years of consistent democratic practice. This is the America whose citizens invaded their hallowed house of parliament to prevent them from what was usually a routine process of certifying the winner of their presidential election. Under our very eyes, the United States the world’s leader in the fight against radical Islam, had its own citizens so rabidly radicalized they turned against the institutions of their own state.

We grew up hearing that the typical American looks unto his government as his of her god. It had always been “government first”. We were told that the reason Yankees are not as religious as African proselytes is because his government has provided everything for him. What is the point going for night vigils, speaking in tongues, binding, casting and screaming radical prayers to a God in some heaven somewhere when the government is in close, touching proximity, doing just about everything to ease the burdens of life? This is the America we heard of in our fables and that is the America we have formed in our minds. Government was held in religious reverence and its institutions, respected and honoured.

Four more years! Deluded Nigerian evangelicals staged rallies for Trump in Onitsha and a few other places

Who’d have thought a day would come when the symbolism of the American Ark of Covenant would be invaded by wild-eyed fanatical citizens trying to upturn election results? But Trump happened to America, bringing with him, a dangerous unraveling that has shocked and will continue to shock the world for years to come.

Perhaps that was the reason for my uncontrollable blood pressure. The United States remains (I don’t even know I this shouldn’t be in the past) a beacon of light for the free world. Nigeria and much of Africa might be floundering but in America, we keep mirroring out hopes and dreams; one day, our dear country shall be like the United States. We were told while growing up that all young people should have mentors; models that closely or remotely guide and influence our behaviour, dreams and aspirations. That was what America represented for us – our saner clime.

That our saner clime was so insane as to elect a reprehensible Trump in 2016 was bad enough, re-electing him in 2020 was so potentially dreadful my heart could not just contain it. He had everything counting against him. He vilified all traditional American allies. He just didn’t inspire. He said everything the way it shouldn’t be said. And there happened to be far too many untruths in almost all that he says. As a journalist, I particularly detested the way he spoke to and of the media. He despised those who opposed him, almost as if Charles Caleb Colton was wrong when he said that “We owe almost all our knowledge, not to those who have agreed, but to those who have differed.” For a country who first put a man on the moon and whose citizens gave the world electricity, the airplane and thousands of other science and technology inventions and discoveries, it was just not acceptable that there’d be an American president who hated science!

And he just didn’t care about Africa. It’s not as if most of the others before him cared, but our excessive obsession with organized religion ensured that by pandering to the sentiments of the evangelicals, he appeared to have won more supporters in Nigeria than should ordinarily have been due to him. Churches held vigils, praying for his victory, pastors and prophets prophesied his triumph while deliriously sanctimonious yet scared preachers yakked about how his loss would imperil the world to the plague of a soon-to-come Anti-Christ.

I strongly suspect that these religious people were right in their predictions or what strange power could have made 74 million Americans vote a man who never takes responsibility?  My only problem with these Nigerian pastors, who, in no small measure contributed in piling the weight that nearly got my heart in crunching medical speed violation, was the way they vainly used God as their excuse for serially lying to their congregation. And then all of us saw how the lines between truth, justice and fairness got well airbrushed with lies and bias when church leaders, reluctant to admit their false prophecies, started to insist God was still going to give Trump victory somehow-somehow, even though he didn’t win.

Nigeria effectively exported our peculiar miracle of “unmerited blessings” to America! And when the desecration of the American Capitol building happened on January 6, many of them were jubilant that at last, God had arrived to fulfil His words spoken through his prophets, of victory for Trump!

I am happy Trump will be history starting from January 20. I am gad I won this referendum. The thought of him taking another oath of office would have broken my heart. I wonder what I would have had he won? I probably would have gone away (did I just paraphrase Trump?) to someplace where there’d be no television and the internet!

But I am fulfilled I am still here, feeling I am one of the “normal” people of this world. And as Joe Biden commences his journey as President of the United States of America, I wish him a memorable sojourn. And I need to make it clear here: I am not one of those expecting a feeding bottle to be stretched from across the Atlantic to support an eternally suckling Nigeria and Africa. The only help Africans will get that is real and true has to be from inside Africa. But I am all for copying good examples from successful countries, be it China, America or Singapore.

Congratulations Joe Biden.

I pray you make a good president.


Ikem Okuhu is a journalist, a Public Relations professional, brand strategist and teacher. With a career that traversed Print Media, Oil & Gas, Banking and entrepreneurship, Ikem is the author of wave-making book; PITCH: Debunking Marketing’s Strongest Myths, a dispassionate exposition of the dos and don’ts of successful engagement in the marketplace, especially the Nigerian marketplace. He is the founder/publisher of BRANDish, Nigeria’s first nationally circulating Brands and Marketing magazine. He has also handled the PR and reputation management consultancies for a number of brands, businesses and public figures.

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