Friday, October 24, 2008

My thoughts on Obama, Obamamania and the 'hottest' son of an African

Champs, thanks for the encouragement. Y'all make me want to write more. I hadn't planned on writing tonight but I got inspired again. Shebi shebi, I am on fire. I am hot right now. Nah, there's no 'eye candy' or mishap in this story. I just attended an event at Stanford: An evening with (Skip) Henry Louis Gates, Jr, who was interviewed by Claude Steele. I remember Skip from an event I attended at Harvard when I was still at MIT, where he led a panel discussion celebrating Wole Soyinka's 70th birthday. I met both Skip and Uncle Wole that night, and that experience requires another blog. This conversation was very interesting; but this is what I remember - education, racial 'stuff', paradigm shifts in how black people are perceived and Barack Obama. They couldn't resist talking about Barack Hussein Obama, would you? I already spoke about him here but this is a follow-up. I am engulfed in Obamamania and I can't wait to see him win this election. How did we get here though?

Yesterday was quite an interesting day. First, I attended an awesome talk by Akwe Amosu about 'Democracy in Africa'. Afterwards, I went to the dining hall with a friend, ate to my fill and took some food home. The food made it home, there was no distracting eye candy. Besides, I was extra careful. I did meet a friend who asked me about (Skip) Henry Louis Gates' talk later that evening. I had planned to attend a Malaria Initiative (post about malaria) at Stanford event, but I ended up at this Skip Gates event. The conversation he was having with Claude Steele was so interesting that I ended up staying. I got to take a picture with Skip Gates. I couldn't miss this photo-op! Besides, I didn't take a picture with him when I 'ahushed' (took a pic with) Wole Soyinka. Like I said before, Skip's chat with Claude generated some Barack Obama chatter. Did you know Skip actually supported Hillary? He is now fully behind Obama and he also said Colin Powell could have run for president. He talked about how Obama is going to be a great president etc and offered some insight into the politic of today.

He said Barack Obama went 'around' the Congressional Black Caucus and the civil rights activists like Rev. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. To Skip, it was a genius move and we know how it's paid off. Rev. Jackson said he wanted to cut Barack's thing off. Reverend Father, why? I remember when Barack first started running, a lot of Black people questioned his 'Blackness'. His family didn't go through slavery, his mother is white, his father is African, he lived in Hawaii, yada yada yada. Such comments surprised me. Obviously, we've learnt a lot about Barack Hussein Obama and we don't question his credentials but he had to work for his support. Like my friend said, Obama is excellent so it is easy to get Blacks onto his bandwagon. Compare him with Palin, I don't think women would get in her igloo to give her support with her antics. Obama has had plenty of chances to mess up, but he's handled them admirably. He's cut across the melting pot and has become the epitome of the melting pot.

Claude asked Skip how Obama has been able to win the support of many whites. Skip said Obama is like the Michael Jordan of politics. If people could love Michael Jordan, the black Michael Jackson, Tiger Woods, etc, why wouldn't they celebrate Barack Obama? We've had sports icons to aspire to, now we have a leader. Obama is more than a politician, he's a leader. I don't support Obama because he is the son of a African, African-American or black, I support him because he is simply inspirational and he is a leader. This race shouldn't be about race. Skip mentioned Colin Powell could have become the first Black president but he's no Obama. It's nice that he can do the Yahooze dance but he's not the rock star or charismatic dude Hussein is. Did anyone not tell him Yahooze is about '419' and 'yahoo yahoo boys'? It's great he has endorsed Barack; Skip presented this as a full circle moment.

Barack is the son of an African. A friend asked me the other day what I thought of the Obama candidacy. I think Obama is a leader. Kwame Nkrumah (you knew I was going to mention him at some point), Julius Nyerere, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama. These are some people who've inspired a following for good. Barack's one in a lifetime. Clinton, Bush, and Blair were alright, but they were presidents, and nothing special. Nkrumah, Nyerere, MLK, Malcolm X, Mandela, Obama. In this game, sometimes there's one name for fame. What's in a name? It has to be memorable. Hussein is cool but for one reason or the other, it won't work. It can though, just change your middle name to Hussein and wipe away the stereotype. I found myself thinking, if I was to run for something, what name would I use? It's exciting to witness Obama's rise.

I told my friend that I felt Obama was a 'good' man. Many times, we end up settling for the most popular candidate or the lesser of two evils. For once, I will like to see the best candidate win. An Obama victory would tell us that we are ready to do the right thing when it comes to making choices, looking past inclinations, affiliations, and organizations. America has a statement to make, and with this outlook, it seems they will be making the right one. If America cannot choose Obama, then maybe we are not very 'serious' in this world. Screw Democrat or Republican. Vote Obama. Yes, I am endorsing Hussein.

I don't think an Obama presidency would be spectacular news for Africa (I just edited Ghana out). You do know he's putting the American front and center of his campaign, right? He went to Kenya to a superstar welcome and caught the ire of some Kenyans regarding American protectionism. Barack Obama said he was going to look out for the interests (of American farmers with subsidies that hurt African farmers) as it's part of his job. Obviously, Obama is concerned about Darfur but I doubt Africa should expect major 'development' because he is the leader of the USA. Besides, we should not be dependent on Obama or the West anyway. Maybe, he'll correct the unfriendly policies towards Africa, but that's the best he could or may do. A poll conducted in Ghana revealed that 31% of Ghanaians favored Ghanaians and 56% didn't know or didn't answer. I should note that Obama's ratings were much higher in East Africa. Apparently, Kenyans want an airport near Obama's hometown (uh huh) in the west of Kenya to be upgraded for the Air Force One in case Barack Obama wins the US elections.

I feel Africans in the US would gain more from his presidency. He technically was, is and maybe, still is one. We (Africans) are not inferior in any way to anybody, maybe Obama will confirm that for us. We all know about Obama, but there are many more Africans exuding excellence in their own little ways. Don't say CNN is not broadcasting it, do you know it yourself? Don't know how to find out? Join me, let's fish the good news out and broadcast it. An Obama presidency would do wonders for the African and African-American and Black American voices that are not heard. They may not be on MTV, BET, CNN or ESPN, oh wait, is that all we are watching? God help us find these gems. At least we have the internet. Go on, google something.

Obama is definitely making black kids everywhere (well maybe not all) work harder at their homework and is giving hope to many people of color. Goodness can win, we don't need to be cynical all the time. When did 'spreading the wealth' and 'making life easier for the masses' become known as socialism? What is wrong with socialism anyway? Screw these isms and let's do what's best for our people. I can't see why the Democrats and the Republicans are so polarized. How is this even necessary? According to me, Obama is above these isms. And if he inspires us, why can't we be above it too? Obama is able to unite us, and his message about us. 'Change you can believe in'. That's the kind of leader I want, the kind of leader we need and the kind of leader who has a vision that everyone can latch on to if they truly want the best for everyone.

M'ano asi (I am done),
Mighty Hussien African.
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