Wednesday, June 11, 2008



By Jerry Okungu

I must put my cards on the table. I am a confessed and registered Obama supporter for his presidential bid in 2008. I didn’t understand the magnitude of this project until I went to the US in March 2008. On meeting the Obama campaign teams, I was left with no choice but to join the bandwagon.

As an Obama supporter, I have obligations to fulfill. From time to time I have to part with my $25, $50 or $100 to support this campaign. This is how Obama managed to raise $ 265 million for his primaries without going to the big corporate for big cash. This way, Barack Obama has expanded his support base to be able to beat a well established political family like the Clintons. This way Obama has ended up with a surplus fund after winning the primaries as opposed to Hilary Clinton who ended up with a S 30 million debt.

Now that Barack Obama has won the Democratic primaries, what else can genuine Kenyans do to support his presidency even though he is not a Kenyan? Apart from writing pages and pages of glowing tribute, how a man with Kenyan connections is going places, what challenge does this feat give us?

As I write this article, I know there are a group of gunmen in America who have formed the Barack Obama club. There are also residents of Obama city in Japan who are celebrating Barack Obama primary victory like their own. In Hawaii and Indonesia where he also grew up the fever is as high as it is at Alego Kogelo.

Without spoiling the party, I must remind Kenyans that Barack Obama is as Kenyan as my three daughters in America. Like my daughters born and raised there, their allegiance is first to their country of birth. When they visit Kenya, it is because their roots are here and are happy to be here for a few weeks then return to what they call home.

When Obama visited Kenya in 2006, I wrote an article that begged Kenyans to allow Obama to be American. I then said that stressing too much Kenyanness on Obama might switch off his American voters. Thank God the American press has little time for what happens in Kenya, hence this madness hardly filters through and even if it did, it will find very little interest among readers in Chicago, Idaho or Buffalo Bills.

For some of us who have followed Black History in America for the last three decades, who were already conscious when Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and several Black Panther revolutionaries were either gunned down on incarcerated, seeing Obama come this far is already victory of unimaginable proportions.

As I write this article, it has not been lost on me to read chapters on ‘Tom Mboya, The Man Kenya Wanted to Forget’ by David Goldsworthy. In this book, Goldsworthy struggles to reconstruct the struggles Mboya went through in politics to airlift hundreds of Kenyan students to the United States between 1959 and 1963. If Barack Obama Sr. found himself in the US in 1959 for the same quest for education even if he was not part of the Mboya airlift, his significance there and having a child with an American lady bearing a Kenyan name is a coincidence no one can ignore.

Today, I see Barack Obama as part of the struggle by Tom Mboya to prepare young Kenyans for not only Kenyan but African and world leadership. If Barack Hussein Obama did not live to see the seed he had planted on American soil flourish, there are others alive to give testimony to the same.

The more reason true Obama fanatics should stop getting drunk with his success so far but to support him materially throughout his campaign until he is finally in the White House.

Many Kenyans can afford $25 from time to time. Send this to Barack Obama. Many Kenyans have relatives in America. It is time all Kenyans behaved in America as Kenyans not as Luos, Kikuyus, Kambas, Kalenjins and Kisiis.

Martin Luther King told us that he had seen the mountain top but that it would not matter if he didn’t get there. Forty years later, Obama is on the verge of getting to the mountain top. Let us support his efforts to get there by being less antagonistic, less parochial and less racist. Let us contribute to the Obama campaign!