Of all the instruments of jazz music, my favourite is the trumpet, and my favourite trumpeter is Miles Davis. I just can’t get enough of him. Every day, I wake up listening to the “abstract sonic musings” coming from the wailing trumpet of Miles Davis.
I can sit all the day long listening to miles and miles of Miles Davis. When I sleep, I listen to him. When I wake, I do my one hour morning jogging, listening to Tutu, one of my Miles Davis favourites, dedicated to the anti-apartheid struggle hero Bishop Tutu. When I am happy, I listen to Miles. When I am sad, it’s Miles all the way. Right now, I am sad. Very, very sad. And to console myself, I am listening to Miles Davis’ All Blues as I write this column. Why am I sad?
I am sad for Hillary. Hillary Clinton, I mean. The woman who by now, should have been wearing the diadem as the leader of the most powerful nation on earth. The woman who should have shattered the mythical glass ceiling preventing women from reaching the top. The woman who did everything possible to win the American presidency but failed. Oh, Hillary, my Hillary, ’tis for thee I weep. The woman whose name sounds like a man, but having a masculine name isn’t just enough. To be a woman in the world we live in, you just have to work hard, work twice or thrice harder than a man to reach the top. It happens in the workplace, in politics, in everything. As a woman, if you don’t work harder to break free, you will be confined to the “other room” where all through your lifetime you are just a domestic servant, a cook, a sleeping partner and a breeder of babies. Just imagine, if Hillary Clinton had been a man! Who says we are still not in a racially and sexually segregated world? Yes, James Brown is very right. “This is a man’s man’s world!” America has proved it. America is not ready for a woman president. Any man would have beaten Hillary. Any braggart dogged with scandals and a bad record of abusing, humiliating and sexually assaulting women. Any man, edgy, irascible, loud, indecent, divisive, with a mouth for talking trash. Any man. As long as you are a man, you can get away with murder and beat a woman black and blue in the ring of American politics. That is the way I see it. Otherwise, how can you explain this painful loss?
Here was Hillary, stable, experienced, bluestocking, tough, courageous, resilient, who had worked and trained so hard, who had prepared all her life for this one big fight. She had beaten Trump in all the rounds. She had trounced him in all three debates. She was ahead on points on all the three judges’ scorecards. Then in the final round, when it all mattered, Trump landed one deadly, bazooka punch. And down, down, went our “crooked Hillary”—using the devastating, punchy words of Trump. She stood up to continue the fight, but groggy, worn out, outpunched, the corner had to throw in the towel. Her concession sermon is for every Nigerian politician who sees winning an election as a do-or-die. It is for every little girl not be discouraged from aiming to the highest height:
“Last night, I congratulated Donald Trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country. I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans. This is not the outcome we wanted or we worked so hard for and I’m sorry that we did not win this election for the values we share and the vision we hold for our country. I know how disappointed you feel because I feel it too, and so do tens of millions of Americans who invested their hopes and dreams in this effort. This is painful and it will be for a long time, but I want you to remember this. Our campaign was never about one person or even one election. It was about the country we love and about building an America that’s hopeful, inclusive and big-hearted. We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought. But I still believe in America and I always will. And if you do, then we must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.
“Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power and we don’t just respect that – we cherish it. It also enshrines other things; the rule of law, the principle that we are all equal in rights and dignity, freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values too and we must defend them…
“This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It is – worth it. And so we need you to keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives. And to all the women, and especially the young women, who put their faith in this campaign and in me, I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion. Now, I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday someone will and hopefully sooner than we might think right now. And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”
It’s so sad. Not in the history of pugilism has the world witnessed any such upset. This is bigger than Sonny Liston’s defeat by the cocky Cassius Clay. It is even bigger than Mike Tyson upset by Buster Douglas. Forgive me for using the imagery of boxing. As an artist and a writer, I have to paint this in a language I understand. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ did use such parables to paint pictures of reality to illuminate understanding.
Now, I still don’t understand how a man or a woman can come so far. And just at the point of drinking from the cup of victory, everything just turns from sweetness to the bitter gall of defeat that draws tears. Nothing prepared me for this defeat. Like Shakespeare’s tragic play Macbeth, all the witches, looking through the seeds of time, had predicted that no man born of woman would beat Hillary. Our modern day prophets and so-called men of God had all joined the witches to prophesy that Hillary would win. In America, the New York Times, the Washington Post and all the big media had given it to Hillary. So had the pundits. The opinion polls said it would be a tight race, but in the end, Hillary would win. We had all braced ourselves for another historic Clinton coronation. But then, human beings have their own limitations. We don’t know what only God knows. Suddenly, the odd man of the Trumpocalypse turned out winning. Painful as it is, Americans have made their choice.
In Nigeria, we took Hillary Clinton’s loss as our personal loss. It was like we have been bereaved. Among the Yoruba, the good morning greeting the day after turned out to be a dirge for Hillary. As the comedians will tell you, the Yoruba have a greeting for every situation. For the defeat of Hillary Clinton, they greeted each other: “Eku Hillary Clinton ooo.”
It is sad. So sad. But then, let’s take our eyes off America and look within. Let’s first remove the speck in our own eyes. Let’s work to rebuild Nigeria and our economy first. America will surely work under Trump. Don’t weep for America. Let’s weep for ourselves.