Saturday, February 23, 2008



By Jerry Okungu

The great land of opportunities has seen it all. If the African continent bled and wailed as its sons and daughters were chained to the slave ships across the Atlantic, the American continent has had its share of sorrow in social injustices, an uprising against the British and the great civil war that finally created what has now become the most powerful nation on earth. However, the civil war was not be America’s last tragic past. It had to deal with Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s that pitted Blacks against White supremacists at home while the great nation was embroiled in another war in Vietnam

The Barack Hussein Obama phenomenon, fifty years after the Civil Rights Movement, a man whose roots are so different from descendants of slaves, is something that can only happen once in the lifetime of a generation.

Like prophets of old, true leaders usually emerge from unsuspecting quarters. When they emerge, they generate more questions than answers.

When Jesus Christ emerged from Nazareth to preach the gospel of the new order, his message was lost to the status quo. The Pharisees and scribes of the old order resisted his change message. They were more comfortable with the old order. They were quick to dismiss him as an impostor and a son of a carpenter. Two thousand years later, the passion of Christ’s message persists.

Barack Obama is not the first African American to aspire to the highest office on the land. Many more went before him. Perhaps the one most powerful African American who had a message of hope for one America in which every body would be judged not on the color of his skin but rather on the content of his character was Martin Luther King in the mid 1960s. But, powerful as Martin’s message was, he was way ahead of his time. The time was not ripe for white America to listen to a black man; a descendant of a former slave.

Nearly two decades after Luther was assassinated, Rev Jesse Jackson made an attempt to take over Luther’s mantle. Twice he tried to become an American president and twice he failed to impact on White voters who have always s been the majority.

What Barack Obama is doing to the American politics is mind boggling. Given that he may not win the presidency for different reasons other than popularity; what Obama has set out to do is to revolutionize American society like nobody has done since Abraham Lincoln and JF Kennedy before him. It is instructive to note that those two great American visionaries died in office at the hands of their assassins.

If Rosa Parks stood up to white supremacists, Martin Luther King told them in no uncertain terms to change their attitude towards Black Americans. Luther asked for justice and equality for all Americans and mankind worldwide. He emulated Mahatma Gandhi before him by practicing passive resistance to an oppressive system. He likened the Indian uprising against British rule to the Black Civil Rights Movement against America’s unjust system. For his efforts, he was awarded the rare Nobel Peace Prize and an assassin’s bullet.

It was not lost on observers that Martin Luther King’s activism reached its peak when JF Kennedy was the President of the United States between 1960 and 1963. During that time, the rapport between King and the Kennedy family was positively accommodating. This relationship indicated that the two great Americans shared common ideals. Is it any wonder that the Kennedy clan today see in Obama the JFK reincarnation?

Back here in East Africa, it was not surprising that our own Kenyan political icon, TJ Mboya, got along very well with both the Kennedy brothers and King, based on those shared ideals. Ironically, Like the Kennedy brothers and King, Mboya too was felled by an assassin’s bullet!

In the ongoing presidential primaries, Obama is causing havoc in American politics. He is achieving rare feats on the political front. He is winning the souls of unlikely supporters. He is breaking the barriers that have boxed races into their own cocoons. If predominantly white communities are saying yes we can with Obama, doubting Black skeptics are beginning to give him another look. Traditional Clinton voters are beginning to say Hilary is good but Hussein is better!

However, the shock came this week when American media reported that two unusual constituencies had endorsed Barack Obama. Here were the 1.5 million teachers in Texas and Ohio, two predominantly white states endorsing a black man for America’s highest office. But the biggest shock came when the Klu Klux Klan, the dreaded white supremacist group that has for centuries relished in lynching Black Americans were reported to have also endorsed Obama!

Is Martin Luther King’s dream being fulfilled through Barack Obama when King reaffirmed that even though Americans faced difficulties of then and in the future, he still had a dream deeply rooted in the American dream, that one day, America would rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed that all men are created equal? That one day, on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves would be able to sit together with the sons of former slave owners at the table of brotherhood? That his four little children would one day live in a nation where they would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character?

Barack Hussein Obama has put Americans on the edge of Martin Luther King’s prophecy. Will they let the dream come true through Barack Obama then together stand up and say: Free at last! Free at last!?
February 23, 2008


miah said...
October 25, 2008 at 7:15 AM  

i think he is a reincarnated kennedy. i felt that from the first time i saw him.