US ELECTION SPECIAL: Why Africans are crazy about Obama

My old school friend from Uganda, who is now an American citizen, had this to say about why she was going to vote for John McCain. “The trouble is that Africans are simply excited about the prospect of a black man (he is not even black) in the White House, but they are not really paying attention to the issues at stake.”
Hundreds of voters wait in line in Florida yesterday to cast early votes in the elections. Waiting times were estimated at four hours.
Hundreds of voters wait in line in Florida yesterday to cast early votes in the elections. Waiting times were estimated at four hours.

My old school friend from Uganda, who is now an American citizen, had this to say about why she was going to vote for John McCain.

“The trouble is that Africans are simply excited about the prospect of a black man (he is not even black) in the White House, but they are not really paying attention to the issues at stake.”

For starters, true to the fact, Africans are excited about a black American president. Why, because the world’s super power has a history of racial hatred against black people, right from slavery up to the recent past where majority of black people were consigned to the lowest classes of American society.

When African Americans showed class in the arts, in jazz, in hip-hop and rap, in the NBA, golf, in Hollywood and the like, they said, “Oh, black men are only good in the arts.”

Characters like Jesse Jackson did not help matters, trying to make their way into politics by throwing vitriol at the white race, akin to reverse racism.

It is not just the Africans. The whole world thinks America is better placed with an Obama presidency than a McCain one.

A BBC poll in 22 countries found out that each of them prefer Democratic nominee Barack Obama elected US president, instead of his Republican rival John McCain.

The margin in favour of Obama ranges from just 9 per cent in India to 82 per cent in Kenya. We all know why Kenyans are mad with Obamania, but that is aside from the point.

The same polls also found that countries most optimistic that an Obama presidency would improve relations are America’s NATO allies - Canada (69%), France (62%), Germany (61%), United Kingdom (54%), Italy (64%) and Australia (62%). Whereas in Africa, Kenya and Nigeria showed (87%) and (71%) respectively. We have to wait and see what the Americans decide.

For a mature democracy like the 200-year-old American one, we do not expect distractive hate tactics, like the swift boat anti-Kerry campaign, to decide the winner. For eight years, a man called Karl Rove has shaped republican campaign tactics, which have hinged on turning the negative tone against a democratic candidate.

We expect the mature democracy to stick on issues, like the worst economic crisis since the great depression, which indirectly affect Africa.

Americans cannot of course agree that socialism may one day be part of their lives. Even Karl Marx would rise out of his grave to sing its impossibility.

For those who think Africans expect Obama to dish out American dollars to African countries are daydreaming. All they want is for Americans, for the world to understand that Africans are not meant to be poor but are poor partly because of the world order.

Africans after centuries of being plummeted and run roughshod over just want the world to know that they too can be anything they want. They want to give that legacy to their children and their children’s children.

Africans want to watch how it will feel people to genuflect in front of the most powerful man in the world, a black man. Obama will not have time to caress the egos of black Africans.

He will not have time to please African Americans beyond his commitment towards all Americans, as president. There is far too much on his plate.

The important thing is not in the material assistance that an Obama presidency will benefit black people. It is the inspiration.

The pride of knowing that it is just possible for any average black man. If on Wednesday we wake up to an Obama victory, they will be parties all over Africa.

They want to see it in the faces of those who think that a black man cannot be great, the shock of it, and the re-examination of such attitudes towards black people. That is why we are crazy about Obama.

Contact: kelvion@yahoo.com

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