I’m sure few years from now, we will all still be excited trying to recollect how we felt the moment we heard that Senator Barrack Obama had been elected the 44th President of the United States of America.
Were you one of those that stayed up late on that special election night of Tuesday, November 4th 2008, and even passed up sleep while staying glued to CNN with your heart practically in your mouth waiting, watching, praying and hoping that audacity will finally have its day, and that hope may also redeem its promise that those who dare to dream no longer have to wait for eternity to see the fulfillment of the dream, and the promise by God.
You are not alone, I did too and will forever remember the day that destiny showed up in Senator Obama’s front door, and in so doing the front doors of all who may have been considered outsiders in life’s many contests.
My evening did not quite hit the high note I had expected long before the election results started trickling in. My Chelsea Football Club had just finished a banal display of soccer immaturity in their Champions league game against AS Roma, a match which could have earned Chelsea a place in the last 16 round of Europe’s and indeed the world’s most exciting football tournament had they pursued it with the Obama seriousness. As I sulked and brooded over the 3-1 loss to the Romans, Charles Okoli reminded me of the impending Senators Obama/McCain election results.
The guys at CNN led by Wolf Blitzer and John King held me spell bound with the high technology the news network deployed for the election, the zinger for me was the hologram technology which transports an interview guest into the studio like a mirage thus creating the impression of physical presence. John King toyed with the giant election result scoreboard all through the night the way a child will with a toy.
As I watched, I wondered in which generation Nigerians will be able to monitor national election results as they break on TV from the comfort of their homes as we did that night on CNN. I wished that just like we were witnessing the election of a Black American president in our lifetime, that this technology thing too may come to pass. In this new Obama era of dreams and hope, we have been thought that anything is possible.
The early results didn’t quite look promising for Senator Obama, but by this time, I had slept off only to be woken up later by a shove from Charles, my election night co-camper. He angrily announced that it didn’t look like Obama will make it. I held on fast to the edge of the seat and rubbed my eyes hard till it almost bled not wanting to drift off again. I didn’t want to be told later what had happened. As the results started to trickle in, my anxiety heightened and that’s when I found solace in my phone.
As I called family and friends scattered all over the world, I was comforted by the fact that they were all keeping vigil, I imagined that there would be millions like us keeping vigil and praying for Obama. There was just no way God was going to forsake us I thought. Charles and I would drift in and out of sleep but would wake each other up as we waited for Obama to cross the finish line.
It was Charles who woke me up with a big scream eventually pointing to the breaking news story on CNN that our man had crossed the finish line first, and then another round of calls again. First, to my wife in London who had also been keeping vigil, then to my brother in Dallas who had earlier voted for Obama, I could still hear champagne popping as we congratulated each other. Next came my colleagues and then some of my friends active in Nigerian politics who had also stayed up. I teased some of them to make it possible for our own Obamas to thrive locally.
And then came the speech, not Senator John McCain’s which was gracious considering the circumstances but the appreciation and rallying speech of the grateful who had just been elected. Whoever gets tired tapping from the vine? Senator Obama flew high above the skies with his oration. The speech was more than enough to bring out the tears from the very Reverend Jesse Jackson who must have seen himself in the young Obama even as he recollected the years of the black struggle.
Without taking anything away from the other events of the night, the ‘scene’ with the Jesse Jackson crying will forever remain etched on my memory. It is indeed my own defining Obama moment on the night. I suppose everyone has theirs, and yours?
I likened all these to the story of Moses in the Bible. Despite long years of struggle, it wasn’t his destiny to lead the Israelites to the promised land. It was Joshua’s. I’m sure the likes of Jesse Jackson and the many before him who gave up their lives for the black struggle will be feeling fulfilled at this point, it was all worth it after all. They have fought the good fight.
Obama’s election however may not signal the end of the Blackman’s struggle for economic, social and political emancipation, but rather it opens another vista of self-consciousness, of pride and self-awareness for the black man and other world people who may have suffered one type of discrimination or the other. We should continue to keep hope alive. Who knows what tomorrow may bring?