Thursday, June 05, 2008

Obama; we celebrate, but...

I am still reeling from the excitement of Barack Obama clinching the Democratic Party nomination at the beginning of this week. I am one guy, who every morning, goes through all the wires to get the latest on Obama. I have been doing that since November last year. I have subscribed to the Obama website and I am expectantly awaiting an autographed T-shirt of the man from the US (Solomon, get done with this quickly—I am anxious).
You, therefore, must understand my joy when finally he reached the delegate threshold to claim the victory against the unrelenting Hillary Clinton.
So, what is in it for me, that (like millions others) I should be preoccupied or as Khadijja would say, be obsessed with this Kenyan-American? This question partially offers the answer.
Obama is a guy from next door. As a Ugandan, I identify Kenya as a next-door neighbour. For other Africans, it is a question of someone from the same continent rising to the highest office on this planet. I am sure people elsewhere have found a way of associating with this enigma of a politician. Indonesians remember him as a guy who attended catholic school there in his younger days. Muslims do not believe that he has discarded his Hussein name, etc. A friend of mine has christened him the “world president”.
I think if that position existed (world president), one person we can be sure now, who would have taken it, is Obama. I am assuming Africans will not rig.
Ok, back to Obama. If he floors McCain in November, trust me, more than half the world will erupt with joy. I don’t know whether he knows what he’s shouldering. In fact Americans should do us a favour and vote him. if not for his abilities, than at least to save us of the deaths that will come as a result of shock, stress, high-blood pressure, in case Obama loses.
Look, this is serious. I have just finished reading Obama’s “Audacity of Hope”. But whenever I would pass with that book in the market, bar, taxi, office, everyone would immediately recognise the guy—and say something, even if factually wrong. That is the fascination. So, don’t say I am kidding when I say people will die, if he loses.
As an African, let me make this clear. Obama’s presidency will not change much about American policy on this continent. It will continue aiding rogue regimes, as long as they serve their interests and go for those that mean nothing to them.
The President George Bush AIDS Relief plan started in 2004 will be maintained, probably Congress will add a few dollars to it, but the scourge will continue to haunt this continent.
In his first year in power Obama will make a tour of Africa; probably five-nation tour, including his homeland Kenya. The madness on the continent will hit fever-pitch as millions throng to see “their son”. He will obviously condemn corruption and call for greater accountability but that will be all.
In brief, I am saying, as we run amok over this historical milestone, let us not set our hopes too high. Let us not think the VISA entry conditions in the US will be softened. Let us not imagine that Africa will become America.
No. we just have to get back to our work. Plunge in even harder. Break a sweat and only be inspired that if Obama could come from that far, break all the myths and barriers, than probably we too, may one day, get there.

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