What Can Africa Expect From Obama?

Barack Obama, an African American whose father is Kenyan, raised many hopes in the black continent. But for what, exactly… ?

The brilliant victory of this fortysomething black- or Afro-American, winning the nomination of the Democratic Party, made him one of two presidential candidates for the November election. Africans gloat with pride as a result. Some already see him as their wild card, their candidate, the “savior” of the continent. Obamania is generating partnerships and other organizations already campaigning for him, even among people who do not vote.

Beyond enthusiasm, the nomination of Barack Obama should encourage Africans to reflect on what happens in most of our countries, where candidates in popular elections, even local ones, face a real obstacle course. If Barack Obama had returned to Kenya where his father was born, we have no reason to believe there would be a candidate in any election. How many dead, maimed, displaced people have seen their hard-earned assets go up in flames because of an election? How many are in prison because of an election? The last presidential elections in Zimbabwe and Kenya are an illustration of our problem.

The USA First

What could be more normal than Africans giving their moral and spiritual support to a brother of color? But what is really waiting for him? Barack Obama is certainly African, born to a Kenyan father. But his mother is American. He had the chance to evolve in the cultural milieu of his mother’s country, where his leadership qualities were adored, according to the canons of American culture. That is why his people set their heart on him.

Barack Obama made his political career in the USA, the country where he was born and grew up. His education and culture are essentially American, even if he has not forgotten his father’s roots. If he is elected president next November, he will serve the American people first, defending his compatriots and their interests around the world with the same vigor and commitment as Jefferson, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and others. Of course, he will serve with his own personal touch and sensitivity. But in any event, it will be United States before all.

We experienced the same enthusiasm in Africa after the 1981 election of François Mitterrand as president of the French Republic. Despite the disappointments of the Realpolitik, hope returned with the 2007 advent of Nicolas Sarkozy who raised trumpet of severance to his lips. Once again, dark clouds darken the hopes of the African peoples.

To Each His Own Struggle

In fact, if elected president of the U.S., Barack Obama will not be the sheriff, ridding Africa of its plutocrat dictators. He will not come to Africa to build our roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, to provide our health personnel with medicines and technical equipment.

That Africans are proud when one of their “chosen immigrants,” fleeing misery and dictatorships in their home country is elected mayor, parliamentarian or even president in their adopted country is commendable. But it is primarily to advance democracy in their own country, as others do elsewhere. Why do our cheeks inflate like rubber balloons while others are singing the anthem of freedom?

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