Friday, July 18, 2008



Published on 18/07/2008
By David Ohito
The Standard

Kenya and the world have been told to emulate US Democratic presidential candidate Barrack Obama and former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Renowned scholar Ali Mazrui on Thursday described the two leaders as icons of a post-racial era from whom the world should borrow leadership lessons.

Prof Mazrui, 75, who is also the Chancellor of Jomo Kenyatta University of Technology and Agriculture, was addressing a Kenya Residents Association luncheon, whose theme was Obama Brain Gain or Brain Drain at the Grand Regency Hotel, Nairobi.

“Obama is the third elected senator in 100 years and the fifth in the 200-year history of the US. Nobody imagined a descendant of Kenya would be a serious contender of the US presidency,” he said.

He went on: “He became the first black US Democratic candidate and what remains to be seen is how the American electorate will vote.” Mazrui, however, cautioned Kenyans against expecting too much should Obama clinch the US presidency.

Delivering a public lecture, Mazrui said Obama and Mandela had surpassed racial challenges and emerged as world-class leaders.

“Mandela was at the heart of the struggle against apartheid, while Obama grew up when laws against segregation were enforced,” he said.

He tickled the audience when he said Obama’s parents divorce was phenomenal to his career.

“Had Barrack Senior remained married, the junior would have been more African than a full-blooded US. That was a historic moment,” Mazrui said.