barack, blessing in disguise

He is too black, he is too young, he is not experienced enough, he is just a political phenomena now, he can’t hold his popularity for 2 years. . . Barack Obama a man of many talents, attributes, and ideas – mired in petty complaints and cries against his ethnicity and youth. Seeing as so many have written about Barack Obama’s potential as a presidential contender I figure I might as well jump on the bandwagon and start tooting my horn on what I think of Obama and his potential for a change in the US Africa policy. Are you ready to listen to the tune of a fast changing world? Listen to those drums, the beat goes on.

Barack Obama presents for many a great hope for America. A change in our misguided political system. A dream of beautiful coexistence. He has written two best selling books and recieved a grammy, besides gaining the support of so many common Americans. For me Obama embodies progress, he embodies the advancement for all people to finally become equal, he represents the dreams and hopes of a country torn in so many social and political directions. Many see his youth and political inexperience as a downfall – I see it as his greatest attribute. We are not a country of large, old, white men. We are a country of young movers and shakers. If the old graying white men can no longer stand up for what they believe in and what the people believe in, then maybe it is time for them to step down! Obama can and does bring a new and refreshing perspective on American politics and problems. He is now mostly an outsider and sometimes that is what we need most when we cannot recognize our own faults and short-comings.

Hillary Clinton, now the front-runner in bidding for the democratic candidacy, recently was interviewed by NPR. In her interview she stated that she did not believe that he could keep up his popularity for 2 years until the election. To paraphrase what she said, Obama represnts a dream that has yet to collide with harsh reality. She understands that he represents the aspirations of many Americans, but she says there is no way he can sustain expectations and the media scrutiny has yet to bring Obama back to earth. I am not so sure what she represents for me or what she will even be able to do for me, but for the time being Obama embodies my ideals and passions more than anyone who looks like me, a privileged, white male.

Barack Obama also represents a great hope for Africa. In a previous post I noted the growing popularity of Obama and his dedication to Africa with his ‘Africa Tour’. If America ever does elect a president with black and African heritage, I can see a great turnaround for the US Africa Policy. Currently it is in the state of sheets of paper and statments – no action. Many Africans wrote on the BBC ‘Have your say’ piece that no matter what color his skin is he is still American, so Africa is still at a loss. Some noted that skin color has no bearing on whether you are good for Africa or not, it is no factor in raising support for Africa. Others note that there are numerous Africans in high US goverment positions and they have done nothing substantial for Africa (ie: Powell, Rice). However, I feel with Obama’s current support of Africa and his heritage in Kenya that he will create a big change and shift in at least a reformed Africa policy. Another important issues to take note of is Obama’s ethnicity. He is not black, he is not African-American. He is an American born of a Kenyan father and American mother. He is a mix of ethnicities just as the majority of people are today.

Along with all this talk on progress and Kenya comes the World Social Forum in Nairobi. Over 80,000 delegats from all over the world will convene to address a wide spectrum of social problems facing the world, including a focus on African issues. This year is focused on the issues faced by deprived Africans. The forum started with a march, which began in the large Kibera slum of central Nairobi. Progressive movements are growing all over the world and in this case Africa. The World Social Forum describes itself as a platform for ordinary people to exchange ideas opposed to a world dominated by capitalism and imperialism. In keeping with an organization opposed to prescriptive solutions to the challenges facing the world, the multitude of meetings and activities are what is called “self-organised”. People are the solution to all the world’s problems, no large plan for positive change will ever work. Do you believe in equality? Do you believe in equal rights for all people? Are you acting progressively?

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