I have goosebumps now watching Barack Obama walking onto the stage as the next President of the United States of America. He has won the election with a crushing electoral college victory. As I write, the man is presenting his victory speech. "Change," he says,"has come to America.""While we breath, we hope," he said. Oprah and Jesse Jackson are both crying.
There is no doubt that this is a historic
win for the junior senator from Illinois. And there were echoes of Martin Luther King in his acceptance speech: "We as a people will get there..." And like John F Kennedy, he exhorted his country to call up a "new spirit of service...."
He also addressed Africa, I believe, referring to "the forgotten corners of the world." He stands with us, he says. For perhaps the first time in a generation, we have a true idealist in the White House. This man has been presented with a mandate to not only change America, but the world. Will he rise to the occassion? Will he overcome the ingrained American system, reach over above its head to Africa? Will he or won't he?
President Barack Obama has the chance to use his mandate creatively in Africa. Because of the colour of his skin, he can be harder on the continent of Africa without having that interpreted in racial terms. I hope that this win means that there is no place for dictators in Africa in the new world. He can be tough on them in ways no other president could have done. That Obama is a Democrat, a party that is traditionally a friend of Africa, is also a big help.
A centrist, Obama is unlikely to introduce earth-shaking policies on Africa, but he will ensure that the foundations put in place by Clinton, the last great friend of Africa to occupy the White House, are reinforced. The Growth and Opportunity Act, a Clinton masterpiece, he should seek to overhaul so that Africa can also live this American fairytale by being presented with an even more level playing field.
I hold the hope that farming subsidies will disappear. I hold the hope that Africa will now be presented by this new administration with a new opportunity to access the markets of the world on a level playing field. I hold hope that the era for handouts to Africa is over and that there is a new era in which the nations that thrive are the ones that are willing to work to make something of themselves.
Barack Obama is not only America's son, but also the world's son, Africa's son. He has international exposure unequalled by any other president in the history of that country. Having grown up in part outside the States, with a heritage stretching to the dusty plains of Kenya, this Metrosexual man truly understands the place of America in the world.
The hope then, is not only America's but also the world's and especially Africa's. For a better shot at this, I hope President Obama appoints Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State.