Sunday, October 12, 2008



OCTOBER 12, 2008

By XN Iraki

It seems that if the current trend continues, Barack Obama will be the next US president. Kenyans are keenly watching the US elections as they feel that for once they have a chance of getting one of "our own" as the president of the world’s superpower.

Some observers have boldly suggested that deportation of author Jeremy Corsi had all to do with Obama. Why annoy the future president when you will soon need him?

Why is Obama’s presidency attracting much interest? What do we expect from his presidency? Are our expectations justified?

First, Obama epitomises our dreams and fears. From childhood, we all dream of rising to the highest office. We attain our dreams through different paths.

One, through employment and, two, through entrepreneurship, where we become our own bosses and emancipate ourselves from the tyranny of employment. Voters also give some people mandate to lead with the privileges and power that goes with it.

By rising to the highest office in the US, and being black, Obama makes all of us feel we can reach the apogee of our dreams.

His victory will debunk the myth that black people are inferior.

The "feel good" effect likely to rise out of Obama’s victory may be felt by black people worldwide resulting in greater motivation as we pursue our interests in life from careers to family life.

Obama’s presidency is attracting our interests for another reason. We feel he will represent our interest at the highest levels in global politics and economics. We feel he will ensure more aid for Africa, more jobs in international organisations and more recognition for black people.

We feel Obama will make up for our weaknesses, for our failures, mistakes and, may be, even our irresponsibility. We see Obama in the same way we see our politicians, as great good men and women out to solve all our problems.

Others feel his victory will mark the start of black man’s domination of world’s politics, reversing the historical trends. What do we expect from his presidency?

His presidency

We feel that through Obama’s presidency, the long and painful struggle between the black and white races will finally be settled in the best way possible, through the ballot box.

Through his victory, the blood of those who died crossing the Atlantic Ocean, sweated in the plantations of America’s Deep South and in other countries will finally be atoned.

Others feel Obama will finish Martin Luther’s journey by matching into Washington with the full mandate of the American people.

Let us be blunt, many of us also believe through Obama, we can get favours at international level.

If Obama wins, we fear he may not have the full mandate to exercise full power and mandate because of entrenched interests in the US and global political systems. Obama will be an heir to over two centuries of political traditions, which will greatly reduce his degrees of freedom.

My hunch tells me that despite all the rhetoric about shaking Washington from Democrats and Republicans, the winner will not shake up Washington. Do you recall Mrs Hillary Clinton’s attempt to shake up the US health system? We have heard Kenyan presidential candidates make promises to shake up the political system, but once in power, rules change.

New presidents usually tone down their political rhetoric, quickly learning to work through the headless political hydra. They soon realise the next election is not far and creating enemies is not one of the pedestals on which great political careers are built.

Obama’s victory will to a great extent be psychic. The reality on the ground will be different. Worldwide, politics is driven by economics; Obama’s victory will not suddenly shift economic power to the disadvantaged, the dream that fired communists and other idealists. That is the reality we must reluctantly live with after January 20, next year.