Africa

Will Barack Obama be wishing he was an African president with real power?

obama203ethicalblogPoor Barack Obama should not be ruing the fact that he was not born in the country of his father’s birth. For, had he been born in Kenya, he would probably have had to kiss goodbye, at birth, any prospect of ever becoming president in the future.
Fate contrived to make Tom Mboya dream up his famous airlift of young and ambitious men and women, who not only received an education in America, but, for some of them, also left a human seed whose fruition is in evidence.
No, he should not brood over much about the raw deal some sections of America are handing him over matters he could not have in any way caused, changed or affected but for which they blame him and, in his own words, talk to him “like a dog.” At least he should be glad that his name, which is his father’s as well, will forever reside in the pantheon of great Americans, who can also claim to be great human beings — for the two do not always go together.
But he has cause to feel a little sore. He inherited a White House that was plagued by an unpopular war, an unravelling economy, rising unemployment and a generalised feel-bad psyche among Americans, many of whom would not even deign identify themselves as such when abroad. Then he had to deal with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which meant squaring up to the obstinacy of British Petroleum (BP) royalty and the burdens of a “special relationship” with the British.
And now there is the very identity of the president: Is he African (as opposed to African-American)? Is he Indonesian? Is he Muslim? Is he Arab? The small matter of a proposed mosque and Islamic cultural centre close to Ground Zero was not designed to exactly help Obama.
All of this is, of course, not of Obama’s making and, as he has pointed out on many an occasion, some matters had soured up very badly long before he was even candidate for the presidency, and others are as much of his fault as a great flood might have been.
For all that, hasn’t the man tried, organising bailouts, giving stimulus packages, saving Motown jobs, giving America’s poor a health insurance of sorts, going hands-on on the oil spill by arm-wrestling with BP, pulling out of Iraq, etc?
No matter. In two months’ time, Americans will be going to the polls to elect their representatives, and the prognostics point to a serious drubbing of the Democrats by the Republicans, the latter being galvanised by a vuvuzelaesque movement calling itself the Tea Party, with Sarah Palin its lead trumpet. Obama will pay the price of his extraordinary success as the first African to have had the cheek to even dream of becoming US president.
Deep in the gloom of November, as the leaves fall all around Pennsylvania Avenue to herald the discontent of the winter to come, Obama will probably be brooding in the Oval Office, thinking just how differently things might have turned out had he been president of an African country.
For starters, the vuvuzelas would not even sound the first blast about impending defeat for a sitting president; no opinion poll predicting defeat for the chief would be published, and instead polls would foretell another triumph for the great genius and total annihilation for his adversaries. (Of course, studies showing unemployment figures don’t mean a thing, coz they ain’t got that swing).
Efforts would be made to help Sarah Palin and her acolytes to see sense, even offer her an ambassadorship to Azerbaijan or somewhere, and if she played hard to get, throw her in jail “for her own security,” and extend the same favour to all the other usual suspects, from John Mc Cain, Newt Gingrich, George W and (just in case) Ron Reagan. The elections would then be postponed sine die due to the unfavourable atmosphere created by these agents provocateurs.
No, seriously, Obama would be justified in wishing he was an African president without exactly being one. Hamlet all over again, you might say.

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