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US President-elect Barack Obama crafts a home in History

Roland Bankole Marke, November 17, 2008

US President George W. Bush (L), First Lady Laura Bush (2nd L) and president-elect Barack Obama (R) and his wife Michelle (2nd R) make their way into the Diplomatic Reception Room on November 10, 2008 of the White House in Washington. (Photo: MANDEL NGAN/Staff / AFP / Getty Images)

The verdict came in before midnight on November 4th 2008. As the American electorate spoke with a loud and unquestionable mandate, in the US presidential elections that gave Senator Barack Obama a decisive win. The junior senator from Illinois becomes the 44th president of the United States, defeating his fierce opponent John McCain: a seasoned senator and beloved war hero. McCain’s concession speech came as swift as it was generous and honest. The maverick in him compensated for his folly exhibited during the long bruising campaign that lasted almost two years. It was one of the most bruising and vicious campaigns in US history, costing a fortune. I was neither involved in politics nor a gifted soothsayer in the fortune telling business. Though my article: ‘Senator Barack Obama Tours Africa’ published in worldpress.org, on November 11, 2006, had predicted that Obama was a potential presidential hopeful. Then, his intriguing political ambition was practically stalled in the wilderness of obscurity.

My heart, like the writer in me told me that all things are possible, if we could champion our dreams, and working resiliently as passionately at nursing them to fruition. But my head questioned the rationality of Obama as a viable candidate, considering his relatively slim resume and being a new comer in the national political stage that ignited initially at the Democratic national convention in 2004. It is plausible reasoning that an African American had an infinitesimal chance of becoming president of United States: where historically the toxic and divisive seeds of racism, marinated with the stigma of slavery had blossomed for a protracted long time. But America gave a shocking surprise to its vocal critics, especially former colonial maestro Britain, where institutional racism still blossoms, historically systemic with deep roots. Despite the cynicism, Obama was elected US President. Selling his mantra ‘Change that we need’ he was able to galvanize a broad appeal. He said, If I lose this race, it’s not because of my race, but because I did not run a good campaign. Eventually, he ran one of the most organized and disciplined campaign in US history. Pundits claimed that Obama has been running for president since he entered the United States Senate.

The rest of the world became active participant, following his campaign with passion and enthusiasm, like the love fairy tale of the late Lady Diana, which took the world by storm. Since Obama entered the race, I’ve been monitoring his progress with personal interest. I read scores of articles published around the world, and shared them with several people, especially members of Sierra Leone discussion groups. Two battle frontiers were drawn forming the McCain and Obama camps among Sierra Leoneans, most of whom are naturalized US citizens. Our discussions were as lively as they were exciting and tense; with emotions soaring to boiling point occasionally. Applying democracy nurtured in USA that guarantees free speech. There was no insurance policy against personal attacks. When the results were announced, my phone never stopped ringing off the hook, till the small hours of Wednesday morning.

My brother Osborne, in United Kingdom, who has been closely following the US elections, called me after Obama’s victory, to congratulate me on a milestone of political victory. In Florida, a battle ground state, with notoriety for elections malpractices, a McCain supporter, whose yard sign had been repeatedly stolen, decided to install a camera and naked electricity to catch the miscreant; who turned out to be a 9-year-old boy. He was heard screaming at 9 pm, when he encountered the shock of his life for playing a prank. Similarly, the car window in Charles’ property was damaged in a conservative neighborhood, where he displayed an Obama sign in his front yard.

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In Kenya the ancestral home of Obama’s African roots, where he has visited thrice, folk were possessed with Obamania reaching fever pitch. They are very proud of him. Perceiving him as a lost son, who would champion and restore their dignity and a semblance of peace and unity around the world: and very confident that Obama would make it to the White house. Their prayers and good wishes did not go unanswered. With a keen sense of interest, Kenyans followed the results of the elections. Viewing the results through battery powered television sets in rural areas, where electricity is either a luxury or does not exist at all. Kenyan president Kibaki declared the 5th of November a public holiday, to celebrate Obama’s victory. He said the Kenyan people fully understand that the president-elect owed his allegiance to the American people, but confident that Kenya would always have a special place in Obama’s heart. He’s the first African American candidate with strong Kenyan roots to win the US presidency. Intuitively, many believe that one of their own has emerged the most powerful person in the free world. They believe that the mantle of power is now locked in their grip.

In Kogelo, the Obama family celebrated victory by organizing a communal feast in their village, with 4 bulls, 16 chickens and assorted sheep and goat. "We are Africans, so our plan is to slaughter a bull and have friends come over," said Abongo the president-elect’s oldest half-brother. We invite Kogelo to come over and it will be open house. People will just come on over and bring a couple of sodas."

Trevor Philips, chairman of Equality and Human Rights Commission in the United Kingdom said: "If Barack Obama had lived here, I would be very very surprised if even somebody as brilliant as him, would have been able to break through the institutional stronghold that there is on power within the Labor Party. The parties and unions and think-tanks are all very happy to sign up to the general idea of advancing the cause of minority, but in practice they would like somebody else to do the business. It’s institutional racism," he said. The rest of the world cannot expect a British Obama till about a century. America has led the way in the journey towards racial harmony, and probably more Obamas would emerge in Germany, France, Italy and other industrialized nations. But this could be a very long shot, probably not in my lifetime.

Mike Huckabee, a Republican die-hard McCain supporter in his article: ‘Barack Obama, My President’ published November 10, 2008 on Foxnews.com, writes, "In my lifetime, I saw the revolting and repulsive indignities of racism manifested in people of color being subjected to separate schools, waiting rooms, seating areas, in theaters and water fountain. It’s an embarrassing part of our nation’s history that we can never ignore. The evil, selfish--yes, sinful –treatment of other Americans because of color cannot be erased. But we can celebrate that on this Election Day, a man was elected to live in the White House who 50 years ago would have at best been able to serve coffee there."

The world grew raucous during 8 years rule of the Bush administration, while President Bush expressed little regrets for his shortcomings. As the decision maker, he led us into two prolonged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, an unprecedented financial crisis that would cripple Wall Street and Main Street, resulting in an anemic economy that is losing more jobs than it is creating: including a broken health care system. The election of Obama is a breath of fresh air, infusing the chlorophyll of hope among many despondent Americans. This is a dream come true which the late Dr. Martin Luther King advocated and died for, during his civil rights agitation. Though Obama is not part of the civil rights movement, he’s a product of it. An era of renaissance is germinating in America like an imported plant, goading us into restoring equality and inclusiveness for all.

Ideal time to feel optimistic, putting behind us a dark and muddled history of yesterday. As we venture into the future with Obama at the driver’s seat giving the orders. And motivating us toward the right direction of a new America, where everyone has a voice. And our leader is ready to listen and be respectful to our allies in progress, to collaborate with the rest of the world. It would take a concerted effort to rise above the ashes and mindset of the past, joining hands with our president-elect in writing a new chapter in history. While restoring or exceeding America’s lost dignity and amiable glory. Crafting a new society, where six year-old African American Jonathan, can draw inspiration from Obama’s leadership, and feel comfortable to write him a letter about pursuing his dream to become president in the future, exceeding his limited previous ambition. Electric sensation is being assimilated, as little Obamas are budding all around us. Only in America is this magnetic inspiration and opportunity possible. Undisputedly, the elephant’s head is not easy for an individual to carry on his shoulder.

Roland Bankole Marke © 2008

Roland B. Marke is a Florida based freelance writer and regular contributor to World Press: poet, and songwriter of Sierra Leonean roots. Marke is the author of Teardrops Keep Falling, Silver Rain and Blizzard and Harvest of Hate: Stories and Essays. Website on: www.rolandmarke.com

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