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On Obama

Like most of the rest of the world, I’m hoping that I’m waking up to a moment in history. Beyond the sheer glee of an Obama victory, there’s just the awesomeness of having been around during what will be one for the record books. During my student days I remember being wistful at times when hearing about historic leaders and historic times, and now there’s an opportunity to live it. A lot of ink has been spilled over why Obama is popular globally and just how disappointed people will be because of high expectations – I think that’s missing the larger point. Will Obama under-deliver, probably yes. But when was the last time an individual (especially that young people can relate to) inspired THE WORLD to think that things could be different and better, and that there is such a thing as a non-crappy politician?

And for those (Kenyans) who are being derisive about Kenyans trying to “own” Obama. Bah! Yes, it’s unrealistic to think that his election will change U.S. policy practically as far as Kenya goes, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Kenyans going overboard with Obama-mania and what he represents for us.

Now if only we can translate our aspirations for him to our aspirations for Kenyan leaders! Would Barack Obama have made it as a Kenyan politican (or even African) – almost certainly not…we excel in trashing intellectual, ethical, different, individuals who want to participate in public service. In Obama’s own words, “…For as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on earth is my story even possible.” Lets work to change this people.

Kudos America for doing the right thing and for reminding us that the American dream is still alive and well.

21 comments to On Obama

  • And the world, finally, can exhale.

  • Owuor


    Even as we celebrate Obama’s success story, even as we with fingers closed wait for his inauguration as the 1st half black President of the USA. We need as Kenyans to ask ourselves this fundamental question. What has been our contribution to Obama Success?

    His BIOLOGICAL father was a Kenyan, who however abandoned his son and escaped any responsibilities of child support. Infact Obama confesses that he learnt more form his Kenyan ‘father’ absence than from his presence. This is kenya’s EMBARASSMENT NO. 1. So his real father was the parents who took Obama in and saw him through his childhood and teenage years giving him the values that he now holds. That’s the reality Kenyans.

    His ‘Cousin’ Raila has all along been a source of discredit to his good reputation. Raila with his VIOLENT NATURE, COMMUNIST ORIENTATIONS, MUSLIM ASSOCIATIONS have all been used against Obama. Infact, Raila in himself has cost Obama some support and Obama campaign team had to work hard to show how distant in thinking and association these two men are. This is Kenya’s EMBARASSMENT 2. It has not gone unnoticed to the Mc Cain campaign team that Raila call for mass protest in Kenya led to over 1500 deaths. This explains why Obama banished Raila from any visits to his campaign or why Obama campaign team has consistently turned down on 4 occassions RAILA’S MONETARY CONTRIBUTIONS totaling 40,000 USD.

    Obama’s Aunt who also happen to be Kenyan has been an illegal immigrant in US for a while. This was also ANOTHER EMBARRASSMENT from yet another Kenyan.
    Infact, we OWE OBAMA AN APOLOGY AS A COUNTRY. With all these bad publicity from Kenya’s heritage, Obama has been understanding enough not to talk ill of us. For that we should be grateful.

    Looking on the other side, Obama’s real family in the US has been a SOURCE OF INSPIRATION AND GOOD PUBLICITY. Yet, they have been quite about it as we in Kenya tell the whole world how Kenyan Obama is.


  • Obama has been inspiration and a source of motivation to many young people. He has shed light for many young people who might have doubted their potential.

  • KenyanSister

    I am extremely happy that Obama has won, not because of his Kenyan roots (although to be honest I can’t remember a time I felt so proud to be Kenyan) but because he is a person of colour and we – through Obama – have made it. Change will come to other places because of Obama’s win – not that he will make it happen, but it has changed racial attitudes and doors will open that were once closed. It is too historic a moment to be put into words.

    I am one of those Kenyans who refuse to jump on the bandwagon of trying to claim that Obama is a Kenyan. Many Kenyans have a habit of ignoring young talent and reaping where they have not sowed, no wonder they want a piece of something they had little input in raising. And if Obama were to distance himself from Kenya’s claim to him, I would understand (after all, how many of you young, talented Kenyans have been shunned in Kenya, made it abroad, and only then does Kenya recognise us?). Kudos to Obama for still claiming roots in our country, however imperfect a place it is.

    People, remember this day in history.

  • Woz

    the greater point about Obama’s Kenyanness is the lesson to all of us on how not to be the kind of Kenyans we have been so far, i.e. he is both an inspiration and is someone from whom we can learn – if we wish to…

  • Sijui

    KP your last paragraph resonates especially with me, as I said somewhere else:

    Only in America!!! I am certainly one of millions changed forever by this election, how has this changed me:

    1) I am humbled and inspired that the cynic in me was repudiated, during the height of the Rev. Wright scandal I sent a tearful email to my mom and cousin that Obama’s idealism was misplaced and not warranted. I am just as guilty as the ‘Obama is a Muslim’ trolls in being captive to fear, misconceptions and stereotypes. This election has taught me that you must rise to your better self, always. It also proves that we all inadvertently create our own realities.

    2) the brilliance of a society that DOES strive for a more perfect union. America has lived up to its brilliance and potential, and it is an example that all people should try to emulate within their own societies. As this election has proven, a very ordinary but capable and talented man was allowed to reach the pinnacle of power based solely on merit and hard work and in spite of deeply entrenched odds.

    3) As an African who had the privelage of voting in this election, it re affirms that the politics of racial and ethnic grieviance is bankrupt and now dead, whether it be in Africa or the West, and that truly we are the change that we seek.

    Congratulations to Obama and congratulations to the United States of America.

  • joe

    I agree with Ory’s sentiments. Obama’s relevance to Kenyans is symbolic and I see no contradiction in taking pride in his accomplishments. Obama represents the possibility that it does not always have to be business as usual. In a field that often is glaring lacking in brilliance and talent, Obama makes an exceptional politician by any measure.

    Comparing the US to Kenya is naive, given our relatively short history as nation. In final analysis, it is the masses who bring change but it makes one hell of difference when there is a worthy individual who embodies the beliefs of the masses. That in my humble submission, is Obama’s gift to the world.

  • As an African American woman who takes her African ancestry very seriously, I’m proud that President Obama is Black, that he is Kenyan and that he is American, and despite any negatives of both, he represents everything that is good and positive about us.

    There are times when I turn on the tv here in America and hold my breath, hoping the latest news report of some horrific crime , wasn’t committed by a black person, so I understand some of your feelings about black folks in Kenya, but we’ve got to remember that those few don’t represent us all.

    I hope this election proves something to black people around the world – with hard work, anything is possible.

  • Jane

    President Kibaki went overboard declaring thursday a public holiday. That is a waste of a whole days work, a president should not be able to make such a unilateral decision. As much as we are proud of Obama’s accomplishments, we must be reminded that a true father is the one who nurtures their child. It is sad Obama’s father chose to abandon his young child, like so many other Kenyan men. As a country, we need to come together and demand that men at least be required to pay child support. You dont read “Dreams from my father” and come out proud of Obama Srs life. Obama’s late grandmother deserves most of the credit for bring up such a well adjusted young man, through all the odds. Now let us not start thinking of what the Obama administration can give us for free, because that is not going to happen. We will be treated like any other country, why should we be treated different.

  • As a white American I do think this election is a watershed. You ask: “Would Barack Obama have made it as a Kenyan politician?” and answer no. But I’m not so sure. Umair Haque takes Seven Lessons for Radical Innovators from Obama’s campaign. From the outside looking towards Africa I see evidence of new leadership Dr. Ayittey’s “Cheetahs.” The seven lessons Haque draws from Obama’s campaign are ones others around the world will adopt and perfect. I think it likely new African leaders will too.

  • Don

    Well put Ory (you seem to have a knack of doing that…). I think the greater lesson for me is that people were able to look past the artificial difference of race to elect the first black President….I would chuckle when I would be driving home from work and see a 6o -something your old white-haired old lady driving proudly with her Obama sticker on her car….or a pot-bellied red-faced guy at a baseball game with his Obama shirt….true Obama is an exceptional candidate who is able to bring people together though his life as well as his words….

    as a lesson that translates to Kenyans…I hope in my lifetime I can see the day when Kenyans are able to look past tribalism…unfortunately we’re not there yet… I agree with an earlier poster we still have very tribal politicians…we need the new generation to step up….I am hoping the “post-colonial” generation will usher in a new era in Kenyan politics…

  • :sad:
    You usually exude such positivity but his time I do detect some negativity when associating Obama with Kenya. Anything that can bring Kenyans together should be looke d at in a positive light even if the real connection between the two is so distant and warped. When one man can produce such a movement, it should be harnessed rather than overlooked. I think this event will get Kenyans to try to do better for themselves. That you from the onset assume he will underdeliver shows why he has had such a hard time getting people to back him from the start.
    I would have thought you would have a more positive spin to your apparent ‘congratulory’ message given that you have been known to be a positive force among the younger Kenyans.
    Remember, support should be total, and we (we who supported him) shoulddo so in the face of his new challenges in totality and not basing it on what we think he can and cannot do. 2 years ago many though that his achievement was a mere pipe dream…..

  • audrey

    :mad:Kenyans should be embarrased that their deadbeat son (obama’s father) abandoned this poor boy. Kenya has nothing to be proud of. Obama’s father is the one who took him in and treated him just as his own. not the sperm donor who fled at the first sight of responsibility. shame to men of kenya for having no shame.

  • I’m African-American and I’m so proud of our country right now! I feel so joyful that we have elected an intelligent and kind president. For me, his being black is the icing on the cake. The whole thing sure does taste good!

    I think Kenyans should be proud and j oyful at this moment in history too. All of us who are part of the African Diaspora should feel proud.

  • S. Wolf

    Thanks a whole bunch, Kenya, for Obama. He is a disaster. He will be historic alright as the single worst president of the US ever. And a major embarassment to Kenya.

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