A New America

Thursday, November 6, 2008
Tuesday, 4 November 2008 will go down in history as a turning point in America’s history. It is the day an African American was elected president of the United States of America. He is Barack Obama. Obama’s rival John McCain captures the significance of the Obama win with an anecdote. In his concession speech, Senator McCain said when Booker T. Washington was once invited to the White House it was considered an outrage. But now, he added, an African American has now been elected to the highest office in America before our very eyes. In other words, the times have changed.

The Obama victory shows that impossibility is a myth. He has achieved what was many years ago thought to be impossible. This explains his global appeal. In him, many see the possibilities that are now open for them too. For young people around the world, especially African Americans, Barack Obama is an authentic role model whose achievement should inspire them all the time. Obama is what he is today through sheer application, reading voraciously to build up his mental energy. In this sense, he is in the same class as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Bill Clinton.

This historic victory also shows that the world is moving away from bigotry and prejudice and embracing reconciliation, leniency and our common humanity. This is the lesson that the rest of the world has to draw from the Obama win. They have to learn that someone’s ancestry is of less importance than their capability. This is especially important in Africa where xenophobia is rife. The case of Alasana Quattarra of the Ivory Coast is worth reflecting on in the context of the Obama win. All of this points up the greatness and uniqueness of American democracy.

When the euphoria of the Obama win subsides, President-elect Barack Obama will have to get down to brass tacks. Top on the agenda is the worsening global economy. The world economy is in a mess at the moment. The first test of the Obama presidency will be how he is able to turn the economy around in the next two years. Preferably, his economic team should hit the ground running right away. They should start drawing up tactics and strategies that will get the economy back on track. There is no time to waste. If he gets the economy right, every other thing will fall in place.

If Obama’s record as the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review is to be our guide, then we can be sure that his administration will be based on merit, not on nepotism. That way, we are optimistic that he will assemble a result-oriented team that will deliver the goods.

In a significant way, with the election of Barack Obama, an African American, as the 44thpresident of America, the United States of America has fulfilled its lofty creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident - that all men are created equal…”

“Made it, Ma! Top of the world!”

-James Cagney