Why do so many Nigerians love Donald Trump?
I spoke to my Trump-supporting acquaintance Fred to try and find out.
When Donald Trump became president in 2017, America’s global image plummeted. In countries across the world, the superpower’s favourability fell off a cliff. In 2018, just 9% of people in France had confidence in the US president, down from 84% in 2016, according to the Pew Research Centre. The same story was true around the world. In Mexico, that number fell to 6%; in Tunisia, 17%; the UK, 28%; and Japan, 30%.
In at least one unlikely country, however, perceptions remained fairly stable. In Nigeria, an impressive 59% of people said they had a lot or some confidence in the US president.
By the time these surveys were conducted, Trump had described Africa as being full of “shithole countries”. He had imposed his Muslim ban (though not yet added Nigeria with its 90 million Muslims). And he had defended white nationalist protests as containing some “very fine people”. Yet despite these anti-Muslim and anti-black attitudes, a significant majority of Nigerians retained faith in him.
Curious to get an insight into this mindset, I sought the perspective of a Trump-supporting acquaintance, Fred.
Talking to a Nigerian Trump supporter
Fred (not his real name) is a 37-year-old father of two. He grew up in Nigeria but moved to the US with his wife five years ago. Before he left, I knew him to espouse relatively progressive views. He had decried Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign and was once physically attacked for posting pro-gay rights messages on social media.
Through our conversation, however, I found that his views had completely inverted. He now admired Trump for his plain-spoken views – even when they were at odds with the facts.
For instance, Fred parroted Trump’s insistence that the Central Park Five, a group of black men and Hispanic men wrongfully convicted of rape in the 1990s, were guilty despite DNA evidence acquitting them. He regurgitated the president’s attacks on the “fake news media” and “the lying New York Times”. He defended the Trump administration’s Muslim ban on the grounds that the US has the right to protect its “Christian values”. And in response to Trump’s disparaging comments about his own homeland, Fred retorted: “Is Nigeria not a shithole country? Tell me otherwise.”
Fred now seemed to agree with the US president on a whole array of matters. I began to realise, however, that those which most resonated with Fred were related to notions of social conservativism. “I’ve been conservative the whole time, even when I thought I was liberal,” declared Fred. He then went on to express this very clearly by arguing, for instance, that women are biologically suited to childcare and should take responsibility for the housework even if they work full-time. “I grew up knowing daddy does work and mummy does work or is at home.”
Fred shared similarly regressive thoughts about women’s rights.
“I used to be a big feminist,” he said. “I’m not anymore because feminism used to be – and I support that – that women have equal rights as men. But now it’s all man-bashing. Men are to be blamed for everything.”
Fred argued that American women had no reason to complain, unlike those in Nigeria. And when I disputed this reasoning, he changed tack. “Keep seeking perfection, hope you get it,” he said before going on to claim, without any evidence, that feminist movements in the US are mostly led by lesbians who are trying to mislead heterosexual women. Fred bragged about having been “red-pilled”, a term used to describe becoming aware of certain kinds of – usually reactionary, misogynistic or nationalist – “truths”.
The heart of the matter
I found Fred’s vehement defence of all things Trump curious. But through our conversation, I came to realise that at the core of his adoration is a deep anxiety: an anxious desire to preserve a heterosexual, male-centric world in which men like him head the family, preside over matters of importance, and act without fear of repercussions.
This fear sometimes took the form of defending “American values”, but its driving force seemed to be an acute dread at losing personal advantages in a deeply patriarchal society.
“We are the ones who, in speaking now, are ostracised and made to disappear,” said Fred. “Words are being deleted from the parlance of people because Big Brother doesn’t like it.”
Fred wasn’t clear on who exactly Big Brother is, but he seemed deeply aware of the threats this bogeyman posed to his ability to do and say whatever he wants.
“If I misgender you, it’s a problem; people say it’s hate speech,” he said at one point. “Western civilization is going down because we want to sit down and care about how we’re addressed.” If he was forced to regulate his behaviour and use people’s preferred pronouns, Fred seemed to say, the world – or rather his version of it – would crumble.
A bulwark against change
It is perhaps here that many Nigerians find their support for Trump. For them, he embodies and gives voice to the ultra-conservative attitudes that hold great sway in Nigeria. For all his less palatable comments, Trump is perceived as a bulwark against what they see as the emasculation of America – and themselves – by the likes of feminism and political correctness.
For this, Trump gets a free pass or has his other views enthusiastically endorsed. Fred, for instance, seemed prepared to defend Trump’s every single position and policy.
“Having the government deny life to the very beginning form of it is in direct contradiction to our constitution,” he said on abortion. “Democrats want to leave the borders open for all of them to cross…we can’t let that happen” he said on migration. “We are going through a war,” he said of tariffs imposed on Chinese imports.
All these answers revealed a frustrating narrow-mindedness, but also a sad irony. Trump’s rhetoric is founded on notions of exclusion that Fred has so willingly imbibed. It imagines an “us” that needs to be protected from a “them” that includes everyone from liberals and feminists to trans-rights activists, to China and Muslims. Tragically for Fred, it also includes migrants like him. And for all his easy use of “we” and “us” in talking about Trump, his uncertain fate in Trump’s own country – which imposed an immigration ban on several African countries including Nigeria in February 2020 – rests on the xenophobic whims of the very man he so readily supports and defends.
Fred sounds like a great guy. I agree with everything he says
You really set Fred up to be lampooned. You didn’t appreciate the merits in his arguments. Instead, you plainly ridiculed his views. You spoke with someone you disagree with but sadly, you did not listen to him. You need to learn how to appreciate views that differ from yours. This article was written from a very biased standpoint. It doesn’t add value to the conversation about conservative values and liberal views. Poor job.
Without prejudice to the opinion of Fred, I’m just totally amazed at how one person’s view could be said to represent those of all Nigerians! Shayera made no attempt to interview any other person! Furthermore, is Fred really a Nigerian, having relocated to the US? Does he hold a Nigerian or US passport? Just wondering!
Great article! So sad what hate can do. It forces the hated to fight for meagre resources to the point of hating their own with the hope of identifying with those who hate them but pretend to like them solely for the purpose of using them to propagate their hatefulness. Internalized racism and internalized colonialism are diseases that a few want to accept that they have. Unfortunately, until one accepts that he has biases and stereotypes against people of his own race, tribe, gender…one will continue to be used in the propagation of agendas that will eventually lead to his very demise. Most pretend to like Trump because he is strong and speaks his mind but I wonder how many of those people with take it lightly or happily if any of their friends of family spoke their mind by hurling insults at them?
The author made limited research & ‘interview’. I’m surprised I didn’t see anything about a few Nigerians supporting his views on Jews. Say how he is the Trumpet of God, & how a prophecy had said the Trump of God would rise in America & give Israeli Jerusalem even at the expense of a whole nation of Palestine. There’s no reference to his finance of genocide in the Middle East & how some Christians believe it is how it’s supposed to be.
The author interviewed just one person, & generalised common affection by Nigerians. While I agree that many ‘Christians’ may support his claims, there are many, many others who are anti-Trump as they are anti-Buhari. & I know some who doesn’t even care about foreign policies or politics. Hell, they don’t even care about clash of super powers.
Fred appears too imaginary and almost a farce. I am yet to meet a Nigerian with so much love for president Trump. The figure reeled out here looks too much contrasting to the summation herein.
I am an avowed supporter of president Trump for several reasons. He calls it the way it is. UNLIKE conventional political jobber politicians, He does what he says and fulfilled all his campaign promises even when confronted with undue unwarranted opposition by HATEFUL opposite people.
President Trump against all odds even from his own party which never supported him in 2016, has continued to call the bluffs, brace the stiff necks, wade through the stormy waters and Trojans on despite the numerous unprecedented monumental mirage of OPPOSITIONS that cuts across boards.
A man won election against all expectations and the left has remained jolted to their marrows and responded with sleeves of hateful gangsterism. A coterie of GANGSTERS formed and resolve to make the presidency unworkable. The recipient and receivers of such gang-up would not be president Trump, rather the populace he swore to work for and defend.
In 2016, as the only Nigerian who stood up for his election. I had told everyone and all Nigerians who cared to listen that Donald Trump as candidate in the US presidential election was going to be elected the 45th president. Even with a piece of article in Diqus, titled “The Last Argument”. Where i advanced reasons for his elections.
I have also harped it to whoever has ears to listen with, that president Trump would win a third term, if the constitution of the US provides for such tenure.
UNLIKE PROFESSIONAL POLITICIANS, A MAN LIKE PRESIDENT TRUMP WHO DOES WHAT HE SAYS AND FULFILL PROMISES IS THE RIGHT MAN FOR ANY DESIRABLE COUNTRY.
Only DUNCES and sentiment goats would not see through the above aphorism.
This made me laugh. Trump has waded through stormy waters alright. Or should that be ‘Stormy’s waters?!’ And I laughed even louder at the ‘he tells it like it is.’ NO. He does not. He tells it like patriarchal white supremacists want it to be. And he has not fulfilled any ‘promises’ (ie threats.) Remember that wall? Ha! Ha! Ha! Very relieved to see the author of the above comment describe himself as the ‘only’ Nigerian who stood up for his election. That sounds about right. As we say in Sierra Leone, ‘Lonta!’
I understand how hard the writer is trying to make people change their mind on very glaring issues, well permit me to burst your bubble, for most of us who are strong Trump supporters in Nigeria we are because of his track record, the American society needs to come to terms with the bitter bitter truth and reality of natural causes which I won’t bother my head about.
From my own point of view what other countries think of America is inconsequential if they like let the rating come down to -0% but how hasAmerica fared under him? Have you noticed that under his administration terrorism has been largely decimated? He has mopped up all the mess of Obama, Obama installed a tyrant inNigeria, and killed a thriving African economy in Libya and Nigeria, as hard you’ll like to market feminism which to me is the greatest fraud of all time and the proponents the most confused set opeople I have met
Uh oh.. There’s a new Donald Trump scandal. Did you hear about Amy Morris’s accusations? From what I understand, she says she was assaulted at the US Open. What do you think about it?
By the time these surveys were conducted, Trump had described Africa as being full of “shithole countries”. He had imposed his Muslim ban (though not yet added Nigeria with its 90 million Muslims). And he had defended white nationalist protests as containing some “very fine people”.
All this part of the write-up is false– Next time do better research so as to write an objective piece.
1. The Muslim Ban was instituted by Obama, Trump only reaffirmed it
2. Trump is never on any record calling Africa a shithole. It is supposedly an insider person who said it and it’s yet to be confirmed by other verifiable sources.
3. Trump never called or defended White Nationalist protests as fine people… In fact, he even condemned them.
American here who has always voted Dem, but will vote Trump this time around. Not crazy about him, but I think he would be better than Biden.
Trump is running around with all this energy, while Biden is hiding out in his gopher hole.
Trump has thousands showing up at his events, while Biden has about ten. Biden has dementia, and I doubt will last 4 yrs. He is a very weak man. He is not strong leadership material.
I have to laugh when I read about the ‘white patriarchal’ stuff. Like it’s normal, or healthy for the nutty BLM people, and others to want to destroy the family, and allow children to make up their own decisions about whether they are a boy, or girl.
The lefty PC culture has gone mad, or was always mad. In both meanings of the word. They basically want to destroy our western civilization. The civilization that has created the most liberty, and economic wealth in the world. Now why would they want to do that? Because they are bored? Because they have meaningless lives? Whatever the reasons. just as right wing extremism must be stopped, so must lefty extremism.
Fred is right. Fred has reason to want to vote for Trump. The left does often belittle men, and does not support men being strong. Men have been making strides with women demanding more attention, and prevention regards spousal abuse, rape, etc. Women can stay on track with that, but men also have a right to their strengths.
Yeees, I know we aren’t perfect. I don’t need lectures on colonialism, and such things. I know my history fairly well.
We had a pretty good economy going, as well as other things. And now Trump, according to some, has become the ‘scourge of the world.
We shall see what happens.
Fred is an just saying all this because he has had a chance to move to the US..Despite the hate on Nigerians, he still supports him, he is a hypocrite.
I have never seen a supporter of his talk about his stances on the issues (aside from illegal immigration and job creation) and offer up justification that not only says a) why the stance is the way it should be, but also b) why other stances are wrong.
Never. Not even once. Trump supporters just focus on the sensationalism, the illegal immigration, and the perception of job creation that was begun anew under in umbrella (which it wasn’t… it was already a trend that has been occurring, but people _always_ conveniently ignore that).
(I’m not a Democrat or a Republican, no way in hell.)
Although a white, college-educated female, I agree with Fred on most of what he believes, even though this article was biased on the side of “progressive” attitudes. Fred and Trump and his supporters are not unthinking relics of a conservative and therefore restrictive (in the view of most progressives) era. Many of them have looked through the eyes of the conservative and compared it to the view of the progressive.
Progressive has been found lacking in essential societal foundations because progress and change are not the same thing. Are we really better off now that so many women with children work full-time and come home exhausted to more work? Are children really better off having more possessions and less parenting? Are families really better off when parents are divorced and kids are bounced from home to home? Our families are fractured, there is no longer right or wrong, societal order is looked upon as undesirable, thugs are glorified and police are demeaned because the truth no longer matters. All that matters is what we view on different media that often bears little resemblance to reality.
As for the average person, we’re all experts and must give our opinions (forget research) unthinkingly and disrespectfully. Even reporters no longer research or report the news; instead, they manufacture the news or deliberately distort it. If we can’t perceive reality, we are doomed to become a schizophrenic, debilitated nation. Who will fill the power void, I wonder?
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