Barack Obama And Africa

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[International: Africa]


In the month of September 1959, a chartered Bristol Britannia airplane brought young Kenyans to the US on African-American Students Foundation scholarships that had been negotiated by a young charismatic politician by the name of Thomas Joseph Mboya.

At that time, Kenya did not have any Universities and students were forced to go to Makerere in Uganda or overseas for college education. Among this group of 81 adventurers, was a 23 year old Luo by the name of Barack Hussein Obama.

He was admitted at the University of Hawaii where he met Ann Dunham, a young white woman from Kansas. In 1961, Barack H. Obama, Jr. was born. Thus, began the saga of the future junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.

His African roots are both deep and politically significant. So far, very little has filtered through the mass media about the reaction of Africans to his stunning victory.  However, one African country has come out in the open to identify itself with its distant son in a dramatic fashion. Kenya's President,  Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister, Raila Odinga have said of Obama: "His victory is a manifestation of the faith and confidence that the Democratic Party members have in him".

The leading national publications in Kenya such as The Standard and The Nation carry enthusiastic congratulatory messages.  Obama's Kenyan relatives have been heard from. His paternal grandmother, Mama Sarah, who is now 86, of Siaya village, his father's home in Nyanza Province, gave thanks to US voters for favoring her grandson. She announced: " I will travel to the US to witness his swearing-in because I know he will win".

Hordes of Siaya villagers watched TV as CNN aired the primary election results. They chanted “Senator, senator,”  with beers in hand. Local and international journalists mobbed the village early on Wednesday to interview Mama Sarah who had become an overnight star.

They represented such media heavy weights as BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera and Reuters. As the word that Obama was winning made the rounds, the circle of pseudo relatives expanded. At the newly christened Senator Barack Obama Kogello Secondary School, students chanted, danced and ululated with the words, "Obama Juu, Obama Juu," meaning “Up with Obama, Up with Obama.”

Cabinet ministers and other politicians made several comments to the effect that Obama's victory was a win for African American, Kenyans and continental Africans. They suggested that, as President, he should seek to pursue a policy of non confrontation and bring Kenya and Africa on the one hand and the US on the other hand, closer together. ‘

The above suggestion should be taken seriously in light of the fact that throughout the campaign, the senator was ominously taciturn on Africa. One would expect that he should have initiated a candidate conversation on such issues as Darfur, Zimbabwe and Africa- unfriendly trade arrangements.

This raises the question:  How well has he educated himself on Africa? Should he become an American president of African Origin, will he champion, within limits, efforts to improve African American-African ties?  In other words, will he be able to join the hand of his father's motherland and that of his mother's fatherland?

The world is waiting to see.

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