Thursday, November 13, 2008

The significance of Obama's victory

PRESIDENT-ELECT Barack Obama, a lawyer, an African-American, 47, born in Honolulu of a Kenyan father, the late Hussein Barack Obama Snr., and of a white American mother, the late Anna Dunham, the fifth African-American Senator in US history, the third to have been popularly elected and, until he was elected the 44th President of the United States, the only African-American serving in the US Senate, has made great history.

He has become the first American of African provenance to be popularly elected President of the most powerful country on planet Earth. He has also produced the first black-black First Lady of the United States, Barrister (Mrs.) Michelle Obama, a notable woman of letters, in addition to being the father of the first black First Children of the United States of America, Malia Ann and Natasha (Sasha).

To come this far, Barack Obama had won his spurs against several other Democratic Party presidential contenders (all whites), including John Edwards, former US Senator from North Carolina, Mike Gravel, former US Senator and former US Representative from Alaska, Dennis Kucinich, US Representative from Ohio, Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico, Joseph R. Biden Jnr., Senator from Delaware, Christopher J. Dodd, Senator from Connecticut and Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, former First Lady of Arkansas and later of the United States of America, being the wife of former President Bill Clinton.

That Senator Clinton is quick on the uptake is not subject to debate; that she is sagacious and uncannily discerning is also not in dispute. From this great woman of letters, Barack Hussein Obama wrested the Democratic presidential nomination ticket during the harrowing primaries and caucuses culminating in Obama's official decoration as the first African-American presidential candidate of the Democratic Party, in Denver, Colorado, in August, 2008. He has now won the presidential election, landslide, against the Republican John Sydney McCain III, a veteran Senator from Arizona and a Vietnam vet.

Of the estimated 187 million registered voters, 58,981,314 (or 52% thereof) voted for Barack Obama, whilst 53,211,821 (or 47% thereof) voted for John McCain, and of the 538 electoral college votes (270 of which are required to win the election), Barack Obama garnered 349 (or 64.8% thereof), whilst a paltry 147 (or 27.3% thereof) smiled on John McCain. Basically, the two major parties, the Democratic Party, founded in 1792, and the Republican Party, founded in 1854, fought the electoral battle along the roots of their earliest influences. Republicans hold to Abraham Lincoln's credo that while the legitimate objective of the government is to do for its citizens "whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all, or cannot so well do, for themselves", the government should not interfere "in all that the people can individually do as well for themselves."

Democrats, too, favour private initiative, but they embrace Jefferson's dictum that the government's primary responsibility is to promote the welfare of all the nation's citizens. More often than not, this leads Democrats to experiment in new programmes that insert the federal government into matters previously left to the individual. This largely explains Obama's predisposition to the welfare of the common man in the US, what he called a "redistributive change", to which his opponent, John McCain, gave a racialist construction. But why did Barack Hussein Obama, in spite of the fact that his name "is an irresistible target of mocking websites from overzealous Republican operatives", win the US presidential election, and what is the significance of his victory?

Born of an African father in America and raised partially in Asia and in America, Obama (burning spear) is a product of three continents-Africa, America and Asia-the finest of whose genetic characteristics he imbibed, growing up. He is more than an expression of the American Dream of a classless society, where a poor boy can reach the White House. He is, to be sure, a man of great patience, subtlety, prodigious intellectual acumen, practical wisdom, and, above all, an imaginative and humble young man, endowed with the gift of the gab and savoir faire, which enabled him to weather the strictures of Senators Hillary Clinton and John McCain, who bedubbed him a Moslem, an Islamic fundamentalist and a terrorist who, for those reasons, could not, and should not, be commander-in-chief of the US.

Any sentence, paragraph or page of any of his two books - Dreams from My Father (1995) and The Audacity of Hope (2006) (bestsellers in their own right) - carries gems of wisdom, erudition and perspicacity. Barack Obama attended some of the best academic institutions in the United States - Columbia University, founded in 1754 and Harvard University, founded in 1636. The young man's brain is fecund, full of ideas and sound judgments. He has taken bold steps to erase from the mind of the white man the ugly racist stereotypes, which Caucasian pseudo-scientific anthropologists employed to justify the objectification of the Black man. (See this writer's prognostications on the US elections in the April 14, 2008 edition of The Guardian). Obama has actualised the Dream of Martin Luther King Jnr.: No longer will the teleological racism of Thomas Carlyle hold sway in the minds of the Caucasoid race.

Carlyle had seen the African as an inferior being, not merely by chance or for the time being, but as a creature created inferior in order to serve his European master: "That, you may depend on it, my obscure Black friends", Carlyle stated, with aplomb without information, "is and was always the Law of the World, for you and for all men: To be servants, the more foolish of us to the more wise; and only sorrow, futility and disappointment will betide both, till both in some approximate degree get to conform to the same." Obama gave the lie to Carlyle's "Law of the World" by his piquant wits and sharp, appetizing intelligence, even before his election as the 44th President of the US. All of America gave him a loud ovation when, in 2004, he delivered the memorable keynote address to the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts.

President-elect Barack Obama belongs to ethnic minorities both in the US and in Kenya, where his ethnic nationality, the Luo, in Nyanza Province, is an insignificant minority tribe. In the US, he belongs to the African-American race, which constitutes only about 15 percent of the US population. Besides, he is black; not white, yet he was popularly nominated by a white-dominated Democratic Party as its presidential flag-bearer, and now elected by the whites, the Hispanics, the Latinos and the Blacks of the US as President designate of the United States of America and, by extension, of the world. Obama is from the State of Illinois, with a population of about 13 million, and not from California, with a population of over 34 million, yet "democracy is a game of numbers", the selfish mantra accentuating the narcissistic tendencies of the Nigerian ruling class.

Obama's election elicited rapturous and maniacal ovation from all over the sane world and Africa, including Nigeria, where rabid tribalism would never allow the so-called ruling-class to consider the candidature of an Obama (and they are many in Nigeria) from the so-called minority tribes for the office of President, considered a permanent preserve of the so-called major ethnic groups, which unaccountably always ignore their bright minds and sponsor some of the most decrepit and intellectually unsound and morally bankrupt politicians to preside over the affairs of a nation-state abounding in numerous intellectual pundits. On page 348 of his book, Dreams from My Father, President-elect Barack Obama, laments the evil of tribalism in Africa when he writes: "Look what tribalism has done to places like Nigeria or Liberia...", where people refuse to acknowledge the fact that every person in the world belongs to one human tribe.

In most States in Nigeria, Nigerians from other States who may have been born and bred in their States of domicile are regarded as aliens, and chauvinistically denied the rights and privileges accorded to the "sons of the soil". The aetiology of ethnic chauvinism in Nigeria could be located in a situation where some otherwise liberal and hospitable States decide to revenge themselves on "clever" States that are organically united, selfish and aggressively possessive.

Barack Obama was born in the State of Hawaii, one the newest States of the US. He later adopted the State of Illinois, which elected him Senator in 2004. Hillary Clinton, Senator from New York, is a native of Illinois. George Herbert Walker Bush Snr. is a native of Massachusetts; his father, Prescott Bush, was elected a Senator from Connecticut in 1952, and two of his sons, including the out-going President, had been governors of Texas and Florida, etc.

Would Nigeria learn any lesson from the US, after whose Constitution our own 1999 Constitution is nominally patterned? Or are we incorrigible and doomed to eternal socio-economic and political poverty? The answers to these questions depend on the youth of this country and not on the irredeemably corrupt, depraved and recycled greybeards.