Hungary: Barack for Obama

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“Barack for Obama” has a special meaning for the group and its founders. Barack in Hungarian means apricot-as in the fruit, hence the catchy slogan.

[Global View: U.S. Election 2008]


Whilst there is no denying that the entire country is swept up in the “Obama Fever”, you would have to travel outside of the United States to truly realize the international magnitude of his popularity and the incredible support he has amongst the youth across the globe.

His message of “hope and change” resonates amongst the rich and poor, from Africa to Asia and Europe, and he seems to be the most recognized and admired American politician, second only to John F. Kennedy, whose worldwide appeal endeared him to many, who went as far as to name their newly born sons after him, and shared in the sadness and sorrow of his untimely death. 

In Eritrea, where I attended the 3rd Sawa Youth Festival held from July 19-21, where the celebrations for the 30th Anniversary of the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students (NUEYS), as well as the graduation of class of the 21st round of National Service were held, I had the opportunity to meet thousands of youth from all over the world who came to Eritrea to support Eritrea’s youth and their many achievements.

At a Horn of Africa Youth Conference for Peace held in the Eritrean capital from July 22-24, I once again met many young men and women from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia and in our discussions showed great interest in Barack Obama and his Administrations policy for the Horn of Africa-a region devastated by incoherent policies which have left the Horn region in chaos and turmoil. More on that Conference and my tour of Eritrea in future articles-today, the topic is “Barack for Obama”.

Allow me to explain.

On my return trip from Eritrea, I went through Frankfurt, Germany and it was there that I met a young Hungarian, Gyula Cserey, who was heading to the United States on the same transatlantic flight. He told me that his final destination was Denver, Colorado, and the Democratic Convention. Accompanied by two other Hungarians, he was headed for Denver as a show of solidarity and support for the Obama team and according to him, to “be a part of history”.  

Gyula shared a little bit about his youth organization and their activities in support of Barack Obama, illustrating Obama’s global appeal, and making me realize that Obama was not just an American phenomenon, but rather an international phenomenon and that his global appeal and reach, across racial lines and economic and social classes, is not only exciting, but also- hopeful.

I decided to engage Gyula further and find out more about his organization, their goals and most importantly, of their interest in Barack Obama and his effect on not just American politics, but America’s world wide image and reputation. We talked about US credibility and integrity in the world and the effects of US policy of youth everywhere.
 

Hungary is a landlocked country located in the Pannonian Basin of Central Europe, and is bordered by Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia. Its capital is Budapest regarded as one of the most beautiful capitals in the world. Hungary is a member of OECD, NATO, and European Union. The official language is Hungarian (also known as Magyar) and is one of the four official languages of the European Union that is not of Indo-European origin.
For these young Hungarians, and for many young men and women who have been touched by his message, it is his youthful personality, obvious intelligence, coupled with his incredibly good looks that have enamored them and galvanized them behind a campaign that is being watched and followed closely, in far away places, far beyond America’s borders.

As Gyula explained, the slogan “Barack for Obama” has a special meaning for the group and its founders. Barack in Hungarian means apricot-as in the fruit, hence the catchy slogan. But there is more to the group and its activities than just the fancy sloganeering-it’s a serious campaign engaged in spreading Obama’s message of “hope and change” through barack-or apricot. 

According to the group, in an event that took place on 24 August 2008 in Tallya, a small town in the Eastern part of Hungary, said to be the “geometrical center of Europe”, a large amount of “barack” marmalade was made and sold to raise funds for youth activities. This apricot marmalade was dedicated to Barack Obama and his campaign- according to the Hungarians, the man who symbolizes hope and change, that many disadvantaged youth across the world seek, even those in Hungary. 
Susanna Nagy, another member of the PES youth organization, in her email message to me wrote, “We would like to show our support to Mr. Obama with this gesture. And why him? Because he -similar to our organization, which consists of young people and which is targeting young people - is young as well, we find his ideas and whole attitude of his to politics really sympathetic…of course because he believes in democratic values and principles”. Her sentiments echoed that of the many hundreds of youth from the Horn of Africa and beyond that I have had the pleasure of meeting over the summer. 

Matyas Gati, another member of the group, told me in an email message that he hoped that “with the jam/marmalade and “eau de vie”-made of apricot” that the PES group wanted to bring “a little fun to the campaign” and help in Obama’s “victory”. In addition to the apricot marmalade and “water for life”, the group is distributing posters, leaflets and T-shirts bearing Obama’s image, adding to the countless campaign paraphernalia available around the world recording this moment in history, where the message of “hope and change” is being spread by a euphoric and enthusiastic youthful force, coercing all of us into paying attention, lest we miss being a part of it, while still deep in it.

The PES campaign for Obama is just beginning and the event in Tallya was the first of many other activities planned by the group. Attending the Democratic Conventions in Denver shows the dedication and commitment of the group to their cause. According to Susanna, the PES Activists Hungary is a new youth organization with no members that are “politicians or other officials”, but it has supporters from members of the European Parliament, members of the Hungarian Government, and the International Secretary.

PES Activist Hungary is connected to the youth organizations of the Party of European Socialists. Its aim is to make the young people more active in the field of politics - especially in bearing a relation to the European Parliament elections next year. The PES Activist is a Europe-wide political organization. Its non-profit status enables “youngsters to discover and develop their senses of co-operation and leadership”. For its own members the organization offers “experiences in politics and leadership”, international exchange programs and the opportunity to take part in European politics.

Susanna Nagy wrote “One of its strengths is that PES Activist brings together youngsters and partner organizations through the above mentioned exchange programs, conferences and virtual tools”-something they have in common with Barack Obama. As the Democratic Conventions in Denver get underway, amongst the millions that have flocked to the mile high city, there are three Hungarian youth activists who have traveled thousands of miles and across the Atlantic to show their support for Barack Obama.

Next time: More on Barack Obama’s international fame and the high expectations of Africa’s youth in his promise of “hope and change”, my extensive interactions with youth groups from the Horn of Africa and “Eritrean American’s for Obama.”


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