Wednesday, November 5, 2008



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
November 5, 2008

November 4 will go down in history as the defining moment in the life for one African American called Barack Obama. It will be remembered as the day all of America put him on the ballot box to compete fellow American and Senator John McCain for the most powerful political office in the world. The following morning, they had elected him in a landslide victory!

As we sat back and watched the polls roll in, many memories kept coming up in the minds of many Kenyans who could remember the hands of fate and destiny in the life of Barack Obama. As the world sat and waited, the sheer ecstasy, excitement, anxiety and joy all came together in a confusing way. There was fear of loss and even of death yet there was hope and high expectation. Hope triumphed over fear!

At 47, Barack Obama competed against 72 year old John McCain for the Oval Office. His own father, Barack Hussein Obama Sr. was born in 1936. He too would have been 72 years the day Obama was elected. In essence, Obama ran against his father’s age mate.

In the final days of his campaign, Obama suspended his campaign to visit his ailing American grandmother in Hawaii. He was sure he would never see her alive again after that visit. As sure as he predicted, the 86 year old lady passed away just one day before Americans went to the polls to elect the first Black American president.
The irony and hand of fate in the life of Barack Obama is mind boggling if not perplexing.

At 47, he had lost all his American relatives, mother and grandparents not to mention his father Barack Obama Sr. who was the first to die; the most important people in his life he would have loved to see him scale the heights of American politics. Yet, in God’s own mercy and grace, He gave him adoring family in his wife Michelle and two young beautiful daughters that stood by him through and through. Beyond his immediate American family, he was spiritually supported by numerous stepsisters and brothers in Africa, Asia and Europe; thanks to the multiple marriages of his father and mother’s second marriage in Indonesia.

Back here in Kenya, there is a direct link between what is today the world’s greatest human phenomenon and what happened in Kenya in the 1950s and ‘60s. Those were the years the late Tom Mboya; Kenya’s most brilliant and gifted politician airlifted Kenyans students to go and study in the United States of America. Mboya was influential enough to convince the incoming American president, JF Kennedy to support the programme.

This was the programme that benefitted Barack Obama Sr. at the tender age of 23. His admission to a university in Hawaii made it possible for him to meet a young American lady who later became the Senator’s mother in 1961.

When Mboya set out to send Kenyan young men and women to the United States, merit was the first consideration. It did not matter that one was a Luo, Luhya, Kamba, Kisii or Kikuyu.

To Tom Mboya, they were simply young Kenyans who needed to be given an opportunity to learn and come back home to serve their young country whose independence from Britain was imminent. What Mboya might not have known was that of the many young Kenyans he sent to America, one of them would plant the seed on American soil that would produce America’s 44th president.

The paradox between Tom Mboya and Senator Barack Obama is intriguing. It would appear that Barack Obama’s political enigma is the complex chemistry of talents earlier seen in Tom Mboya of Kenya, Martin Luther King Jr. of Atlanta and JF Kennedy of Massachusetts; the three political giants who influenced Obama Senior’s life.

Unfortunately, all these people who played a part in Obama’s life even before he was born are now long dead; his father in a road accident while Kennedy, King and Mboya were gunned down by political assassins in their home countries six years apart. Had Mboya been alive, he would be 75 years old, just three years older than Obama Sr., King at 79 while JF Kennedy would be 91.

As we sit back and celebrate the dramatic victory being played out on our TV screens for the next few days, our hearts like the rest of the world are with Barack Obama. While the world has endorsed him for president, the people who had the power to put him the White House have finally done so. The American people have spoken!
With these few lines; you deserve our congratulations JaKogelo!