Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Obama - Challenging Change

WHEN Americans talked about change, it meant at election time moving out one candidate for the other. Barack Hussein Obama, 46, an African-American, whose roots are in Kenyan’s Luo ethnic group, has changed all that as the democrats’ presidential candidate in November’s election.

His victory in the primaries broke impermeable barriers. Son of Barack Obama, Sr., a senior economist in the Kenyan government, who died in a car accident in 1982, he grew up with grand parents in Hawaii after his father and American mother divorced.

He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School where he was the first African-American President of the Harvard Law Review. His other accomplishments - the fifth African-American senator in USA history, his book, The Audacity of Hope, has been at or near the top of the New York Times Best Seller List since its publication in October, 2006.

Obama was senator for eight years in Illinois State . In 2004, during his USA Senate campaign, delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston . Months later, he won his USA Senate seat with 70 per cent of the vote. Four months in the Senate, Time magazine named him ‘one of the world’s most influential people,’ and ‘one of the most admired politicians in America .’

His 1995 book, Dreams from My Father, a memoir of his youth was reprinted in 2004 with a preface from his speech at the National Democratic Convention. The audio book edition won the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album. His 2006 book, It Takes A Nation, was on hurricane Katrina.

He married Michelle LaVaughn Robinson in 1992 and they have two daughters. Michelle attended Princeton University and Harvard Law School . Essence magazine in 2006 named her among ’25 of the World’s Most Inspiring Women,’ and in 2007, Vanity Fair magazine listed her among ’10 of the World’s Best Dressed People.’ In 2007, 02138 magazine listed her 58th of ‘The Harvard 100,’ a list of the prior year’s most influential Harvard alumni, Obama ranked fourth.

Obama’s vision of government, from Audacity of Hope, “A government that truly represents these Americans - that truly serves these Americans - will require a different kind of politics. That politics will need to reflect our lives as they are actually lived. It won’t be pre-packaged, ready to pull off the shelf.

It will have to be constructed from the best of our traditions and will have to account for the darker aspects of our past. We will need to understand just how we got to this place, this land of warring factions and tribal hatreds. And we’ll need to remind ourselves, despite all our differences, just how much we share: common hopes, common dreams, a bond that will not break.

These words challenge change, even in Nigeria where government is all the things Obama listed and more. Just like Abuja , Obama says, “People in Washington think nothing outside Washington counts”. This attitude hugely accounts for governments’ indifference to plight of the people