Barack Obama and Lewis Hamilton: Two Champions in Prospect

by Sheyi Oriade

By some quirk of providential randomness, two men unrelated to each other, but united and defined by an uncommon sense of ambition and singularity of purpose will have their respective professional destinies determined within days of each other. Barack Obama and Lewis Hamilton, will, as they approach the grand finale of their respective quests, find themselves placed on the scales of public scrutiny and weighed in the balances; in order to achieve a measure of their worth and to determine, whether or not, their respective heads are a ready match for the crowns which they so earnestly covet.

Because of the evident differences which characterise them, they would seem, at least superficially, to be the most improbable of personalities and unlikely of subjects, upon which to attempt to draw any form of comparison or seek areas of commonality between. But notwithstanding their dissimilarities, at a certain level there is a basic resemblance, if not correspondence, between them; and it this affinity which forms the common ground upon which the foundations of their respective ambitions are laid.

Their main difference – quite apart from their belonging to different generational groups and nationalities – is the fact that they belong to different professional vocations. The pursuit of which, requires of them different modes of conduct. Obama has to pay careful regard to what he says and does and with whom he consorts. Hamilton bears no such restrictions; his mindfulness is limited to the configurations of the various racing circuits upon which he plies his trade. Obama has to keep his feet firmly on the ground. Hamilton’s feet hardly ever touch the ground. Obama has to gravitate towards people; his success is entirely dependent upon them. Hamilton often attempts to defy gravity through the rapidity of his precision driving. Unlike Obama, his destiny is both literally and figuratively in his own hands. Both men reside on different continents, and neither, as far as I am aware, has met the other.

But in spite of their differences, there are certain similarities which bind them together. Both share the feature of being of mixed racial parentage; and each man in his home nation is regarded as black. Both are involved in unprecedented races, which if both, or either, of them wins, will ensure their being catapulted to greatness; seeing that, either, or both, of them, will be the first of their kind to achieve such distinction. Each man has a champion’s mentality and thrives against the odds.

In the pursuit of their respective races, each man in his conduct has shown admirable maturity in refusing to take for granted the outcome of their separate quests. Neither man has been willing to tempt fate and this in spite of the pervasive air of success surrounding them. Hamilton, perhaps, more so than Obama, is only too aware of how things can suddenly go horribly wrong. Last season his championship title, was practically in prospect, but cruelly eluded his grasp by the tiniest of margins. Obama, in his turn, recognises the peculiar complexities which characterise and skew his nation, such that he cannot afford to be presumptuous about anything.

Both men in their different ways, represents something of a beacon of hope to many people in their respective countries. Obama’s quest, in which he stands tall, mainly in the estimation of the African American community; a community, which has seen its collective posture, contorted and distorted out of shape, by the sheer weight of the intolerable burdens forcibly imposed upon them for centuries. To them, his candidacy (and its much anticipated success) represents a major psychological boost; if only vicariously.

However, one is not naïve, as to think, that in the event of his success, a ‘parting of the waters’ or a ‘transmutation of water into wine’ will occur and result in the transformation of their fortunes. It will not. If anything at all, any dividends which do occur, will in all probability, be in trickles. Trickles of change, which will percolate ever so slowly through the entrenched filters of oppression; whose essential mechanisms, have for centuries, been fabricated and calibrated to dispense only injustices to millions of people. It will take more than one term in office and more than one man’s vision to re-calibrate and overhaul comprehensively these outmoded mechanisms.

The hope that Hamilton holds forth is of an entirely different order to that of Obama. He stands as a role model and a testimony of what is possible for many young people of his generation in his nation and around the world. Especially those who find themselves denied and deprived of opportunities – for whatever reason. His example shows that with the right mix of opportunities, a proper aptitude and attitude, coupled with determination, few things will be beyond their reach. Like Tiger Woods before him, Hamilton is set to shatter the barriers of his sport, widen its appeal, and alter its complexion.

It is perhaps fitting that each man’s decisive race is taking place in nations where there are huge populations of people with roots from Africa; people who were ferried away against their will. It is also interesting that in these races both men will be running against ‘home boys’. In Brazil, Hamilton’s main rival will be Brazil’s native son Felipe Massa; and in America, Obama, as we know, is up against John McCain. But notwithstanding the opposition against them, I am certain that large numbers of these populations will be rooting for their success.

One’s overwhelming preference is for both men to emerge victorious in their respective contests. But were one to fall short of his objective, I would much rather it be Hamilton, than Obama. This preference is not a reflection of a lesser regard for Hamilton; he is a remarkable young man. It is based solely on the ‘fierce urgency of now’ and the realisation that for Obama, it is now or never. Whatever the outcome in Brazil, Hamilton will have numerous opportunities, in succeeding years, to have his name writ in gold.

But be that as it may, as both men approach the final homestretch of their historic races, I pray that each succeeds and is elevated to greatness. And in this regard, I pronounce Baraka (blessings) upon Barack Obama and hope that he is able to bring healing to his racially chequered nation; and in the same breath, I wish Lewis Hamilton, Godspeed, as he roars his way towards the chequered flag and his first Formula One championship title in Brazil.

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1 comment

Makinde November 2, 2008 - 4:16 pm

Lewis Hamilton is champion of F1!!! Go on Obama.


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