In Summary
  • The US president also seems to have been captured by the delusion that forcing the dismantling of Mr Kim’s nuclear weapons programme.
  • There is real danger now that, if President Trump fails to bully Mr Kim into acquiescence, he may lash out in frustration and make good on his threats to unleash nuclear missiles.

It is the season of handshakes. This week, we can turn our attention from trying to decipher the entente between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition chief leader Raila Odinga onto the world stage, where two of the most mercurial leaders of modern times engage in a historic meeting.

If there is no last-minute disruption, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and American President Donald Trump will today shake hands in Singapore.

Mr Kim and Mr Trump may lead two vastly different regimes but they have a lot in common — mostly negative and on factors that will be familiar to us in Kenya and many other African countries forever under threat of dictatorship.

The North Korean despot is one of the more brutal leaders remaining. While the rest of the world embraces democracy and the interdependence of the community of nations, he presides over a vicious, hermitic regime where suspicion of dissent or independent thought is punishable by death.


Citizens are spared any ‘pollution’ that might come from contact with the outside world and kept in the bondage of poverty, hunger and ignorance.

Mr Trump, by contrast, presides over one of the largest democracies, the ‘home of the brave and the free’ that has prospered into the largest economy in the world through the infusion of talent and ideas from centuries of immigration from all corners of the world. Yet in Mr Trump, the United States now has a leader who would clearly drift towards dictatorship were he not restrained by a constitution that checks on executive excesses.

He does not have the freedom to exterminate his foes but has often expressed admiration for his North Korean counterpart and other dictators who do not have to go through the rigours of competitive elections or subject themselves to the laws.

In the US President’s ongoing onslaught against the FBI and the wider Justice Department as he fights back investigations into possible collusion with Russia to secure electoral victory, Kenyans will find parallels in the way President Kenyatta’s propaganda machinery was used to slander and intimidate Supreme Court judges following the unfavourable presidential election petition ruling last year.


We could also go further back to the unconventional methods employed when President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto fought International Criminal Court charges of crimes against humanity following on the 2007/8 post-election violence.

It is, then, no wonder that some supporters of the Jubilee regime have often expressed admiration for President Trump’s rambunctious and disruptive ways.

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