Nov 5, 2009

Black People and the Obama Hype

Had Barack Obama, the democratic candidate in the United States Presidential Election failed to win, it will have dealt a big blow on the psyche of black people not just in the US but also around the world. It would have also resulted in a serious backlash that time alone would have been able to heal. This is because a lot of black people particularly in Africa had already conditioned their minds to believe that Obama is the President in waiting. This is despite the slim margin that put Obama ahead in the opinion polls and previous experience to the fact that black politicians have often been handed big surprises at the moment of decision.

For the sake of Obama alone Africans had wished they had a franchise, which they could exercise in the US elections. Obama’s presidency is important to Africans because Africans are aware of the fact that they are often the underdogs in global issues; be it in politics, economy, science or technology. Thus a black President of the most powerful nation on earth would have reinforced the belief of Africans that they could also do it. Obama’s presidency will give Africans a bigger sense of belonging in global issues.

I personally have heard songs in eulogy of Obama as the black “President of the World.” One is from Ghana and the other from Jamaica. To underscore the significance of Obama’s presidency of the US, a Nigerian woman who happened to be the Director-General of the Nigeria Stock exchange, Ndi Onyiuke Okereke, raised one hundred million naira (N100, 000 000) with the aim of supporting the Obama campaign which Obama however declined to take as it violates portions of the electoral laws in the US. In Kenyan where Obama’s father was born, there are newborn kids that have been named after Obama. Obama’s T-shirts and speeches on DVDs have sold in thousands. There is also the audacity of hope, a book by Obama that are now found on every bookstand.

To African-Americans, Obama’s Presidency will no doubt give them a sense of belonging in their own country. They also hope that it will be an opportunity to address peculiar problems of black people in the US.

Obama however will be a President for all races and an advocate of a better world for us all. In as much as Obama has enjoyed the full support of black folks within and outside the US, he has also enjoyed the support of the other races in the US. As a matter of fact, the earliest indication of the potential of Obama Presidency was made by some white liberals who vowed to support him leading to his eventual declaration of his intention to run for the presidency. Had Obama had only black votes he would have lost the elections. It should not be forgotten that Obama’s mum is white.

Thus Obama’s victory is a physical and tangible actualization of Martin Luther’s dream of a United States were people are judged not by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. Hence Obama is a unifying symbol and the US that made that happen for the first time, is undoubtedly, the leading nation on the surface of the planet.

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