Africa And President Barack Obama

by Peter Claver Oparah

As the Obama Presidency makes its final, tortuous and sure-footed journey from dreamland to reality, it is desirable that Nigerians and Africans must package what they actually want from that presidency. One believes that despite the we-feeling sparked among Africans by Obama’s colour and ethnic background, Africans are driven to make the kind of emotional investment they made in Obama’s candidacy by our feeling of what his presidency stands to return to Africa. I am not, by any means, insinuating that Obama is going to divide his loyalty and attention between the United States and Africa. In fact, I did quarrel with most of the Obama supporters because of the weight of the sheer naivety we packed into it to become another African show in Washington. I had warned them not to ever think that a President Obama will ever relocate to Africa to contend himself with African problems. For this, I had rather been lukewarm on whoever emerges from the US electoral process because such a person first owes his firm and undiluted loyalty to the United and the ubiquitous American Interest.

Make no mistake about it; I never believed that an Obama Presidency would become a reality because I had my ingrained suspicion on the American system and its people. I had my fear that although he is really good but that American system and its famed catholic viability will not tolerate a black man as President. I still had the feeling that the system will thank Obama for his efforts and tell blacks through him to wait a bit longer. I know that most of the Nigerians and Africans and indeed blacks that keyed on to the Obama Presidency did so because he is black and no more and this came with enough fanatical flipsides that really repulsed me. I also know that in his presidency, they invested such gargantuan hope that he would bring so many goodies to Africa. I was feeling we were not making enough input to improving the staid and laid-back process in Africa, the shameful and macabre artwork in Nigeria, which seems to abhor any process or practice that is decent and sane.

Of course, I came in contact with the seeming paradox that although he originates from Kenya, a President Obama will quickly sign an order to level Kenya if such is in the American interest. I confronted the ruddy fact that although he has an Arab middle name, a President Obama will not hesitate to order a full-scale war against Arabs, if that tallies with the American Interest. I also came face-to-face with the fact that even as blacks and Africans are more favorably disposed to Democrats than Republicans, blacks have gotten their highest ever-possible lift when Republicans are in power. These therefore made me not to be so carried away by the hype, the buzz and the heightened excitement with which we almost ran ourselves to a stupor because of the Obama candidacy. But I must agree that these paid off in the grand prize, which the Obama Presidency became. I must congratulate all of them that dared dream with Obama. I must congratulate America for showing it still remains the greatest and most powerful nation on earth, where dreams could be made to walk on all fours. The development should warn nations that sleep and wake with the song of the imminent demise of the United States to do better than fantasizing about how a country that has done much for mankind can come to grief. Such process that produced Obama reifies the beauty of America while it also shows the crudeness and ugliness of Africa, especially the bestial lot that has appropriated its leadership and employs it as a scorpion to chastise her people. Simply, it shows the staying strength of America and why it may not crumble as easily as some people wish.

Having secured the Obama Presidency, I think the greatest effect it can have on Africa is the improvement of the scandalous system in our true native land where we are collectively alienated from even having a say on who governs us. I believe the Obama Presidency would be judged successful from the African perspective, by how far it goes to imbue the reprehensible system we are slaving under here in Nigeria and indeed Africa, with the needed facelift to make it accountable to the people and not to few rouges and their subalterns. I believe that beautiful process that produced the Obama Presidency all tended to demonstrate the fact that the people, and only the people, matter in a democracy. The long and winding electoral process contrasts so sharply with he voodoo contraption and elaborate sham that is passed as an electoral system in Nigeria. The rare beauty in what tails pinned to an Obama presidency is that the people matter and participate at every stage of the process. They remain the issue and their interests and welfare dictated the pace of the process.

Nigeria and indeed Africa, needs a redemptive impetus from the desperate clutches of the very mandarins and unrepentant ghouls that have made nonsense of the electoral process in Nigeria and Africa and reduced it to a sick and repulsive joke that caters for their selfish interests and employs the common interest as the very butt of their wry act. We need to rediscover our strength and value and the best way to do this is through having for ourselves a self-accounting electoral system that will ensure we matter in the choice of who rules us. This stands to address the leadership question, which stands defiantly at the root of the multifarious socio-political and economic vicissitudes that ravage Nigeria and indeed the African continent. A President Obama will tremendously assist Africans if he takes more than a passing interest in the process through which leaders emerge and handle the affairs of the badly governed and greatly mismanaged continent. He cannot do this through envisioning and setting up of an expansionist force as AFRICOM. This espouses the African policy of George Bush, which though commendably encapsulates some noble pro-African postulations, was tainted by the thinking that an expansionist force is needed to hold Africans at bay.

Africa is afflicted by so-called leaders that are morally bankrupt, ethically rusty and blank on the most basic demands for rulership. They have led a well-endowed continent to the brinks of collapse and have invented the state of nature in a continent bristling with natural potentials. They have hobbled every system and reduced the continent to one vast colony of want, despair and destitution. Nigeria’s case is even worse because with each attempt, its system worsens, even as some countries in Africa have made conscious and appreciable efforts to improve on their system. The sad aspect of Nigeria’s own terrible case is that most of our afflictions are man-made and are sustained by a cabal that have made a solemn vow to ensure things get worse for the whole because it prospers their tiny cartel. The manifest decay and rot they have infected in Africa finds ready and practicable instance in Nigeria, which has been reduced to a kwashiokored giant that diminishes as others progress.

One believes that given the fact that a process that makes the people to count produced him, the greatest service President Barack Obama can do to Africa and indeed Nigeria is to assist Africans and Nigerians to reclaim their lost manhood that has been violently seized by marauders and their collaborators. The most he can do for us is to assist us reclaim that important quality that makes America to shine even now when jingoists wait endlessly to sing her nunc dimitis; the very reason why its empire is not about to fade and its sun not just about to set, as the nay-sayers have hoped futilely. It will benefit Africa if we package their collective demand from the Obama Presidency around this topical framework and give it all we have to realize for there lies the root of our general problems.

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1 comment

Kazima Karanja November 6, 2008 - 5:37 pm

I think people shouldn’t expect Obama to focus seriously on Africa. Why should he? His loyalty is with the United States of America. He doesn’t owe Africa or Kenya anything. People just automatically assume just because he had a Kenyan father he is a Kenya. He isn’t. He is an African American like any other African American male in this country. He has said this himself that he was shaped more by his father’s absense than his presense because he only saw his father once in his life. If he was running under the banner of an African from Kenya he wouldn’t have won this election. He won this election by professing his loyalty to this country and planning to bring people together. If the same Barack Hussein Obama grew up in a middle class background in Kenya coming from the luo tribe, he could have never become president of Kenya because of the tribalism that unfortunately exists in Kenya.

I don’t know why Africans are waiting for a hero to come and save us in our countries when the problem rests with our corrupt goverments. It’s only us that can redeem ourselves from our troubles. Don’t expect savior Obama to come and rescue you at the expense of the American taxpayers. It will never happen. The most he can do is to urge our goverments to practice a true democracy regardless of race, tribe or religion.


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