Wole Soyinka is leaving the U.S. because of trumpocalypse

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Wole Soyinka

Will other Nigerian- Americans do the same?
Like millions of others around the world, I was glued to the TV last Tuesday night, anxiously waiting for the US to elect their first female president. When it became clear that the feat was unlikely, I turned off the TV and went to bed, hoping I’d wake up to a miracle.

I didn’t.

And days later, it’s still sinking in that Trumpocalypse is upon us. That the American people would elect an inexperienced, racist, misogynist, with multiple accusations of sexual assault is almost too insane to believe. But that’s a different conversation.

The fear of a Trump presidency that could include a ban on Muslims entering the US and lots of wall-building to keep immigrants out have (quite rightly) made people (particularly immigrants and people of colour) nervous. So much so that Google recorded a surge in the query, ‘how to emigrate to Canada’ after his win and the Canadian immigration website crashed before his victory was confirmed.

A widely circulated (but debunked) article on Trump’s immigration stance states that Nigerians are high up on Trump’s immigration hit list. Although this particular report isn’t true, what is true is that Trump (despite his grandparents and wife being immigrants) has a hardline view on immigration.

So, what does a Trump win mean for the estimated 300,000 Nigerians, living, working and studying in the United States? Prof. Wole Soyinka has openly said he will rip up his green card come January when Trump is sworn in, but will other Nigerian Americans follow suit by packing their stuff and heading home?
Maybe…

America’s divisions have been laid bare

America is a country divided. 88% of blacks voted for Clinton, as did 65% of Asians and 65% of Hispanics. 58% of white people voted for Trump. His openly racist and xenophobic rhetoric set a worrying precedence, one that clearly resonated with most white voters. Like Brexit, the ascension of Donald Trump has given racists and bigots a new sense of legitimacy.

Already there has been a rise in hate crime against Muslims, black people and Hispanics according to the Independent. Given the views and comments made by the President-elect about these groups, where will things go from here?

Everyone loves a success story and Instagram
The tale of the successful returnee is the gift that just keeps on giving. This story (and its variants) have lured many a returnee to move in search of opportunity and adventure as advertised by Instagram. This, coupled with anxiety over what Trump’s plans may be and a favourable Dollar to Naira rate might make the idea of moving back look shiny and new.

Time to Make Nigeria Great again?
Whenever any calamitous thing happens in the west, it usually coincides with a period of reflection everywhere else. With the US and the UK becoming less immigrant-friendly, there are rumblings that perhaps it’s time Nigerians look inwards. Or as Mo’ Abudu tweeted: “Let’s wake up and fix our country and our continent. There’s nowhere to run anymore! Let’s read the writing on the wall.”

Then again, maybe not.

Winners don’t quit and quitters don’t…
Nigerians in the US are for the most part doing quite well for themselves. Nigerians are the most educated immigrants in the US and according to a research, black immigrants in the states are earning 30% more than African-Americans. Plus, as Nigerians, suffering and smiling is somewhat encoded in our DNA irrespective of where we live. So realistically, survival seems more likely than fleeing.

Better the devil you know?
As the slogan goes ‘there are opportunities in Nigeria’ but Nigeria is also in recession; foreign companies are shutting up shop and leaving in droves, and jobs are ever more scarce. Moving back in this uncertain period may not be the best idea.

Clinton won the popular vote and some people hung to the hope that the Electoral College (the people who vote to legally elect the president) would also go for the former Secretary of State but that wasn’t the case. This last US Presidential election was an election like no other.

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