As they watched people smash into the US Capitol, some in Africa could not help but see a little irony in the chaos after US President Donald Trump once called African nations “shitholes.”
Others across the continent offered Washington some tips on how run a democracy — advice that has so often gone in the other direction.
“It’s time for the African Union to send in peacekeepers to protect American citizens,” a Rwandan Twitter user joked.
“Imagine the headlines on RFI, France 24, CNN, VOA Afrique, Reuters: four dead killed with live bullets in the Capitol,” tweeted Gastonfils Lonzo, a doctoral student in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo). “The lesson-givers would already be sending investigators.”
However, some in Africa, which has seen a wave of political crises over the past year, including a coup in Mali and numerous aging leaders trying to stay in power via constitutional trickery, saw something in Trump that reminded them of problems at home.
French-Burkinabe satirist and cartoonist Damien Glez compared Trump to former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh, who refused to relinquish power after losing an election in 2016.
“We often look like those we snub,” Glez said in an editorial on the Jeune Afrique magazine’s Web site.
“What happened at the Capitol shows that Americans are finally recognising the value of Africa and are copying its post-election practices,” a Twitter user in Madagascar wrote.
Images of Jake Angeli, one of the people who stormed the Capitol on Wednesday bare-chested, and wearing facepaint and a horned animal fur hat, were particularly popular in West Africa.
Fahad Ag Almahmoud, a leader of a Malian armed group, tweeted that his pro-government militia solemnly “condemned the presence of dozos in the Capitol.”
Dozos are traditional hunters in the Sahel who have been accused of myriad abuses and wear outfits strikingly similar to the one Angeli wore, even down to the talisman hanging from his neck.
“Our cousins the American dozos did not stay on the sidelines of this historical event,” a Twitter user in Burkina Faso wrote.
Angeli — who was identified by US media as a follower of QAnon — reminded many of Jamiroquai singer Jay Kay, who tweeted saying that it was not him.
While European leaders were quick to condemn the shocking scenes in Washington, African heads of state were in no hurry.
However, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa called for the US to lift sanctions that Washington imposed in 2002 over rights abuses under then-Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.
“Yesterday’s events showed that the US has no moral right to punish another nation under the guise of upholding democracy,” Mnangagwa wrote on Twitter.
As the chaos was unfolding, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari aide Bashir Ahmad simply tweeted: “The Beauty of Democracy?”
Bienvenu Matumo of the DR Congo’s Struggle for Change (Lucha) pro-democracy movement told reporters that “we must stop saying that it’s only Africans who don’t want democracy.”
“We have proof that the refusal to leave power after an electoral defeat is not only the prerogative of Africans,” Matumo said.
Floribert Anzuluni, the coordinator of fellow Congolese opposition movement Filimbi, agreed.
“What happened reminds us that human nature, regardless of color or origin, needs safeguards — education, strong institutions, responsible leadership — to restrain its basic instincts,” Anzuluni said.
Journalist Boubacar Sanso Barry wrote in the Guinean newspaper Le Djely that “we should break with all these hasty and somewhat racist judgements” of African countries.
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