For Africa, this is huge!

“Who was the fat lady?” asked my mom, who had walked in near the end of my four-hour watch-snooze election marathon. I looked at her for a second and tried not to get anymore choked up than I already was.

“Well, he got Pennsylvania and Ohio, and then Virginia, but when the networks called California it was all over.” I was pleased that I managed all those words without the frog jumping out of my throat.

But really, the moment when it happened was almost unreal. One second Jeremy Thompson, the main anchor for Sky’s election coverage, was reporting on the latest results with Obama still well short of the magical 270 electoral college votes needed to win, and then he paused, listening to his earpiece.

“One of the US networks has called the election for Obama,” he announced. Then he listened some more. “And so are we” (or words to that effect). The screen exploded in a blaze of confetti-type graphics. “Barack Obama wins the Presidency!” went the caption. The polls had just closed in California (at 5am our time) and the race was already over. Obama wins!

America and the rest of the world are starting to make sense of what that means. For Africa, the symbolic value alone is huge. For a continent that has struggled under the burden of racism for centuries, it is incredibly inspiring. And for the voters who elect Africa’s leaders it means that they too can hope for leaders who embody the leadership qualities of Barack Obama. It’s a nice touch that the two women who had the most important influence in Obama’s formative years were white. In the picture below, doesn’t he remind you a bit of Mandela? I’m sure Madiba must be smiling one of his broad, hugely infectious grins today. The message to Africa should be: Yes we can!

 

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8 Responses to For Africa, this is huge!

  1. You’re right; it’s huge for Africa. I am excited about a world leader with his vision, dignity and humanity. The world hasn’t had such a leader since Mandela, and it’s about time.

  2. Litlove says:

    What a wonderful choice for President Obama is – when Africa can share in America’s sense of joy and positive change. That can only be a tremendously good thing.

  3. verbivore says:

    Very very exciting isn’t it?! I often dislike how much influence the US has around the world, but today I’m just happy to think that people all over will take inspiration from what happened. It’s a wonderful feeling.

  4. Dorothy W. says:

    I’m tearing up reading people’s posts about the election — yes, it’s amazing and inspiring.

  5. Riani says:

    I can’t agree more. I live in the Middle East, and people are happy slapped. We were all hoping for an Obama win, but didn’t dare believe it would really happen. After all, the Americans have been known for getting it wrong before, haven’t they? and I just choked up when I looked at people like Jesse Jackson and Sen. Lewis, getting all soft in the eyes. Yes, it reminded me so much of 1994.

  6. Sarah says:

    Yes we can is right! It made my afternoon to come home from work yesterday arvo (Sydney time) and find that Obama had won. That said, the comparison with Mandela is a bit inflated- Obama hasn’t been imprisoned in Robin Island for years after all. It will be interesting to see what happens in the Sates and the world now.

  7. doctordi says:

    Who knew the fat lady could sing such a happy song…?! Still welling up.

  8. Pete says:

    Charlotte – the media here are describing it as the US’s “Mandela Moment”. I wonder if Obama drew on some of the leadership qualities of Mandela. It’s a sign of the respect for Obama that they are putting him (nearly) into the same category.

    Litlove – a very good thing on many levels. I do worry that the expectations may be too high though. He’s not superman and the message should really be that it is about us and what we can do rather than what one man can do.

    Verbivore – I know. I’ve been trying just to savour the moment without letting all the doubts and worries creep in. Hopefully the predictions are true and that this election does represent a shift in (world) politics.

    Dorothy – it’s been great to share this experience with other bloggers – and from all over the world too!

    Riani – welcome! And happy slapped is a great way of putting it. One report said that Africa is drunk on Obama. And the world seems to be mad with Obamamania. I can’t help wondering about all the implications of that – for mental health for example! Hopefully just good implications.

    Sarah – I know. These are very interesting times (and in a good way). I’m cautiously optimistic that things are moving in the right direction.

    Di – I can relate – enough already with the welling up! But what a good fat lady song. I can listen to it another 20 times.

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