Wednesday, November 5, 2008



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
November 5, 2008

The American opinion polls were right. The American voters concurred. The margins were almost to the point. 333 electoral votes against McCain’s 141 was a resounding victory for Obama. He more than doubled McCain’s electoral votes while beating him by at least 5 million extra votes in popular votes.

The world rose up in unison to celebrate the first black man’s victory to the American seat of power. The color of the skin or nationality did not matter. It was the same mood in Kogelo, Chicago, Japan, France, Indonesia and Berlin. Their favorite candidate had carried the day. The weak at heart like Jesse Jackson, Winfrey Oprah and millions of Obama supporters wept tears of joy. His triumph was the triumph of humanity. The whole of America stood together with mankind to celebrate true democracy and triumph over prejudice and bigotry.

For the first time, America proved to the world that their system really works and that in America, belief in one’s worth can yield dividends. Armed with this belief, change had come to America through Barack Obama and hopefully this change will trickle down to the rest of this troubled world.

The two speeches that concluded this long journey were apt enough. In conceding defeat, McCain acknowledged Obama’s ability to put up a good fight; a fight that gave him a resounding victory. And in characteristic American fashion, he asked his supporters to join hands with Obama to make America a better place to live in. Obviously there is something to learn here by our undemocratic leaders who would go to any lengths to rig elections and when caught would refuse to accept defeat!

When it was Obama’s turn to give his acceptance speech; he paid glowing tribute to John McCain and Sarah Palin and invited them to work with him for the good of America. This again was in the true American fashion in which the victor does not clobber the vanquished that already lies on the ground.

In apportioning his victory to the American people, he did not forget the young Americans who worked for him and finally voted him in. Black, Brown or White, the youth of America had rejected the myth that an African American was unelectable to the oval office. Now there was proof that any American child irrespective of color, can go to sleep believing that he or she can!

Perhaps the one man who summed up the mood of the night was Television Evangelist TD Jakes who quipped, “Now I can die, knowing my children will be fine!”

In celebrating his victory in his home city of Chicago, Obama did not for one moment underestimate the challenges waiting for him and the rest of Americans. He was quick to renew his promise to tackle the economy, create jobs for Americans, provide all Americans with affordable healthcare and tackle terrorism issues with an open mind.
In renewing his campaign promises, he invited all Americans of all creeds to join him in reworking America because his victory had given his nation a chance to bring change they can believe in.

He asked Americans to avoid the pettiness of partisanship that for decades had divided Americans between red and blue states; black, white and brown; East, South and West; asking them to ensure that their passions did not break the bonds of their affections for one another and their country.

As he pledged to put America back to work and restore her prosperity, many nations across the globe especially from the Third World must have waited with anxiety what the new American president would do for them. Iraqis must have wondered aloud what would happen to the war on terror in their region. Palestinians and Israelis in the process of negotiating the long elusive peace must equally have been waiting to receive new signals from the incoming Commander in Chief.

Here in Africa, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, El Bashir of Sudan and Joseph Kabila must have sat up to wonder what the new guy at the White House would do to deal with conflicts in their countries.

Meanwhile, as Kenya enjoys a public holiday in honor of Barack Obama; courtesy of President Kibaki, let us lower our expectations as to what Obama’s presidency can do for us. Let us remember that Obama is still an American citizen by birth, elected by Americans to lead them according to the American constitution and put their priorities and interests first. If Kenya is accorded the most favored nation status during Obama’s tenure, let us thank our God for His little mercies.