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Escaping ‘the mad kingdom of Trump’

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Trump. PHOTO: AFP

Of kings and monsters. World history is replete with tales and sagas of these characters. Some formally crowned, whilst others were comic caricatures of self-coronated creatures. Whatever category they fall into, theirs is a unique brotherhood. They have shared bonds of amorality, lack of conscience and zero empathy for fellow humans. Ultimately, their grim handiwork finds expression in usurping the role of God, in determining who should live and who should die. Not enough can be said about Adolf Hitler and the industrial scale human, economic and environmental carnage he wrought; and no warnings can be too dire or hyperbolic about similar events occurring in the 21st century. Willfully discarding trumpeted admonitions, which grow louder by the day, is done at the collective peril of humanity. A sizable number of mankind put their faith and trust in the stupendous scientific advancements of the age, which they erroneously equate with the prevalence of commensurate advanced human values. This Pollyannaish thought process, also extends to equating the existence of sophisticated levels of political machinery and state craft, characterizing most world governments, with high levels of moral rectitude within society writ large. These thought patterns are buoyed by the fact that the United Nations birthed in 1945 is still functioning, albeit, with the same ease and nimbleness a person may possess, having to drag an attached third leg behind them. Surely, this global political body is a testament, that one of the darkest and bloodiest chapters of human history, can never be repeated? Hitler, an abject specimen of a human being, envisioned establishing a thousand year Reich, led by him in which a master race would subjugate all other “lesser races,” who would exist in varying degrees of perpetual servitude; with some forming a reservoir of slave labour. Others deemed sub-human and not fit to live were destined for the gas chambers. Marrying tyrannical powers with his evil, reprobate genius, Hitler, initiated the 2nd world war (1939-1945). The conflict was responsible for the death of 70 – 85 million people.

The African continent has also witnessed reigns of despotic terror, which evoke sorrow until this day. Idi Amin rose to power in Uganda on the crest of grave ethnic marginalization and hostilities, which had caused widespread suffering. His military dictatorship lasted from 1971 – 1979. One of Amin’s first policies was the immediate expulsion of the 80,000 strong Asian community, which formed a vital part of the back bone of the Ugandan economy. Although claiming that he acted to redress the rights of the common man, he parcelled out the confiscated businesses and property within the Ugandan army. He further cajoled and pacified elements within his military junta, by lavishing on them, costly Western luxury goods. In explaining his rationale, he quoted an old African proverb: “A dog with a bone in its mouth can’t bite.” The Ugandan economy spiralled downwards as a result of mismanagement, corruption and nepotism.

Amin engaged in indiscriminate acts of state-sanctioned terror, giving rise to countless, egregious human rights abuses, which did not even spare honoured senior members of the judiciary. Also not spared were Christian leaders, including priests and ministers who were “disappeared.” Being a Muslim and seeking to elevate Islam over Christianity, Amin fanned the flames of religious conflict and eventually banned all Christian activities. Amin’s destructive instincts led to the escalation of environmental sabotage and degradation, due to poaching and smuggling activities of Ugandan army soldiers and career smugglers.

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Wikipedia reported that “Uganda lost 75% of its elephants, 98% of its rhinos, 80% of its lions and leopards, in addition to numerous species of bird.” Although I do not possess any medical training whatsoever, I nevertheless grew up surrounded by the higher echelons of the medical community in Lagos, Nigeria. My father, the late Professor Wensley Vidal Fowler, was part of the cadre of earlier generations of Nigerian doctors who trained in the United Kingdom, and returned to Nigeria to form the lynchpin of medical training and practice in the nation. “Wensley enrolled at the University of Glasgow, in 1945, aged 22 to study medicine. He graduated MBChB in 1950, attending further classes in clinical surgery and pathology in 1951. Upon returning to Nigeria Dr. Fowler became a fellow of the West African College of Surgeons in 1960 as an anaesthetist.” – The University of Glasgow Story. My father was the first Nigerian to head the Department of Anaesthesia, at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, the largest teaching hospital in Nigeria. His professional services and skills were called on personally by the Head of State at the time, General Gowon. My father’s colleagues and friends were comprised of a multi-disciplinary phalanx of medical practitioners. Of that close-knit fraternity, his intimates included Professor Lambo and Professor Asuni. Both were internationally renowned psychiatrists. Professor Lambo was the first Western trained psychiatrist in Africa and would rise to become the Deputy Director-General of the World Health Organization. Professor Asuni, studied medicine at Trinity College, Dublin. His recollections of practicing medicine in Nigeria in the 1950’s amid scarce resources, included operating under a bush lamp, using improvised uterine clamps and being ably assisted by nurses as his anaesthetists. After meeting Professor Lambo on a holiday trip, he was inspired to change his career to psychiatry. He was Director of the United Nations Social Defence Research Institute, Rome, from 1979 to 1984 and Chief Examiner at the Faculty of Psychiatry, West African College of Physicians.

Naturally, my childhood friends were almost exclusively from families whose parent, or in some cases, parents, were health care professionals. As a 10 year old, my next door neighbour was the Adadevoh family. My friend, Ameyo Adadevoh, followed the footsteps of her father, Professor Adadevoh, into the medical profession. She became the lead consultant physician and endocrinologist at a private hospital in Lagos, where she worked for 21 years, She had never encountered the Ebola virus before, but was able to diagnose and contain Nigeria’s first Ebola patient in July 2014. She is credited with having curbed a wider spread of the virus in Nigeria, by placing the patient zero, Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian national, in quarantine despite pressures from the Liberian government. Ameyo, tragically contracted Ebola and died a short while thereafter. She is both a national and international heroine, for sacrificing herself to protect humanity at large. Nigeria is the most populous African country and our nationals travel frequently and widely. With the key support of the US Obama administration, alongside other global partners and stake-holders, the country was able to escape the worst of the Ebola crisis. The World Health Organization officially reported 20 cases of Ebola and 8 deaths in Nigeria. Not being a medical professional, I can nevertheless say without fear of contradiction, that Trump is unstable and dangerous and poses a global existential threat. To aver that rational people are not in a position to make such an assertion, based on several years of a plethora of publicly available empirical evidence is insane. Anyone doing so, is an Accessory before and after the fact, to Trump’s acts of commission and/or omission, which result in loss of life and economic ruination. Such a person lacks a conscience and would have blood on their hands. If at high noon, one sees a vehicle careening towards one at top speed, with full head lights on and horn blaring, one does not need a traffic warden to tell one to jump into the nearest hedge, to avoid being run over.

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Trumps on-going self-indulgent denials, wimpy recriminations, gross negligence and intentional mishandling of the current Corona virus pandemic, will no doubt exacerbate the loss of life and prolong the suffering caused by unemployment. Much of which could be prevented. Trump has resisted the calls of medical experts for a nationwide stay-at-home directive and for masks to be worn in public. He has knee capped their best efforts. He is reluctant to shut down businesses and other income-generating activities, in the short term, which would ensure success in the long term. He is no visionary, brave heart or pragmatist – key elements of leadership. His refusal to lead by example, another key feature of leadership, by using a mask in public – because it does not appeal to his sense of vanity, is pathetic in the extreme. Trump will go to bed unattractive and wake up unattractive! Beauty is as beauty does. Furthermore, I do not think that in the midst of a raging, global pandemic, world leaders will be making house calls, certainly not leaders of the royal variety. This was his stated reason against wearing a mask. Moreover, in direct and continued opposition to scientists, Trump irresponsibly publicly touts the use of an anti-malaria drug, as a magic cure for Corona virus cases. In effect, he is practicing medicine without a license.

He does so in the manner employed by an African witch doctor who lacks anything resembling medical training, but persists in plying his oftentimes dangerous and deadly craft, with a devil-may-care nonchalance for outcomes. I just made it out of the US in the nick of time, after a 10 day vacation to visit family in Washington DC. I had also been looking forward to attending a few book signings and discussions at the iconic DC “Politics and Prose” bookstore, however, all events were cancelled. I was able to take a flight back to Lagos 2 days before the Nigerian ban on International flights went into effect. The fact that I was a business class passenger, and that my rising panic was superimposed on my carefully applied maquillage, must have made it an easier project for the check-in staff to switch me to a KLM flight, having initially dolefully informed me that my scheduled Air France flight was cancelled. I experienced a tremendous sense of relief when I arrived back home. At least I know what I am dealing with from day-to-day. During the Ebola crisis our government did not force feed us a constant diet of fetid lies on top of vague and empty promises. Nor did we have to contend with hourly changing official narratives, tailored to massage the egos of callous and inept leaders. I would much rather be in Nigeria, amidst the challenges of a developing African nation, than remain in “The Mad Kingdom of Trump.”

Ms. Fowler is an international lawyer.

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