‘If Obama Can Make It, I Can Make It’
Dear Mr. President,
It is all music, dance, pomp and colours in Africa as we celebrate the victory of the first black American president in the history of USA. We are proud, Mr Obama, that you have transcended race, colour and prejudices to occupy the most powerful office in the world. The fact that you are half Kenyan makes it more exciting for some of us. Yes, you have proved that Africans can make it. That black people are worthy of respect and dignity.
When you declared that you were going to run for the USA presidency, I saluted your courage in daring to dream of something you wouldn’t achieve. Not that you didn’t possess what it takes, I just thought you were in the wrong place. Where skin colour matters.
It didn’t cross my mind that you would win. But I wished that you could. Not because you are half African and you might make things better for us, nor because I thought you might bring radical changes in the USA and the world. It was because I thought that your victory would open up to the world a new perspective on Africa and her people. I said to a friend that you stood a chance of winning, but he doubted it, ‘White people cannot let a black man rule them,’ he told me.
For centuries, many black people have felt that they have been associated with all that is dark. While the whites are said to possess intelligence, morality and will power, the blacks have been seen as lacking morality and emotional stability. As inferior. Do you know why many Africans held crazy celebrations when you were declared the winner? Not because of what you might do for them but because of the message of equality, respect and dignity that comes along with your victory!
I have much respect for the Americans, for making a choice beyond race and colour. They voted for their hopes and vision, not their prejudice. I also commend you for embracing both your skin colours. You dared to bridge a very sensitive gap. This opens an avenue for possible healing, forgiveness and reconciliation in many black people who still hold hate and resentment.
Your success is a wake-up call to many Africans. You are a model. I bet that many are now working more aggressively towards their vision and goals, rising from pain and humiliation to put together a vision for their societies and the world. There is a new saying: ‘If Obama made it, I can make it.’
Travelling in Central and North East India for the last three months, I was impressed by the enthusiasm for your election. People here have immense hope and trust that you will revolutionize the world for the benefit of humanity. As one senior bureaucrat told me, ‘We are tired of America’s attitude towards the rest of the world. I hope that Obama will give it a new face’. The whole world is looking up on you to fix the economy, solve the catastrophic conflict in the Middle East, wipe out poverty in Africa and other developing countries, sort out the threat of global warming…the list continues. Sounds like too much work and so much pressure. Doesn’t it? But can you afford to let all these hopes go down the drain?
I believe in your capacity to lead the USA and the world towards healing and success. It’s quite unfair to expect you to solve overnight the massive problems heaped up over the years. I trust your wisdom and courage to handle this! We all have heard you talk so brilliantly about your vision. I will not be disappointed if you don’t meet the world’s expectations, many of which are quite unrealistic. I will be disappointed if you lose your moral vision.
You have opened a new chapter full of hope. Martin Luther King Junior’s dream four decades ago may become a reality: ‘I have a dream that one day this nation will live to its creed “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the Red Hills of Georgia, sons of the former slaves and sons of the former slaves owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood…’
Mr. President, I trust you to take us where we all belong. Keep the vision alive!
Ann Njeri, Kenya
Ann Njeri holds a diploma in Information Technology. She took part in a six-month internship programme at the IofC Asia Plateau centre in India last year. She is currently working full time with IofC Kenya.
NOTE: Individuals of many cultures, nationalities, religions, and beliefs are actively involved with Initiatives of Change. These commentaries represent the views of the writer and not necessarily those of Initiatives of Change as a whole