Sunday, January 25, 2009

The thuggery awaiting Obama in Africa

If America had not sunk so deep in economic turmoil or got so frustrated with the Bush administration, the country would have probably not endorsed Mr Barack Obama for the presidency.

But if Obama must partly thank the extremity of the crisis in the American condition for his election, he must simultaneously worry about the poison in his chalice.

It looks like America was saying: “Okay, black man; here is Leviathan in all her inventiveness and her glamour, with all her grossness and self-delusion. We made this country together. She may be crippled, but you have the voice of a prophet; why don’t you try your hand at the helm? Restore her to a new level of hope and prosperity.”

Although Obama’s roots are partly in the African experience, the line tracing his transfer is far shorter than that of the great warriors of the American civil rights movement. If black Americans borrowed the NRM’s rules of protocol, Obama would not sit with the “historicals”.

However, because his transfer is relatively recent, Africans feel a greater affinity with him than they would with a multi-generational African-American.

By the same token, without much adventure, Obama has already found the village that nourished his paternal connection.

When the orgies over his triumph have stopped, Africans will begin to ask: “Hey, brother man, where is the beef?” In his inaugural address, Obama outlined the kind of values and convictions he wants associated with his presidency, and they are at odds with the practice among the majority of Africa’s leadership.

Against the ideals of America’s forebears and the sanctity of its founding documents, he will be faced with the personalised authority of despots who treat national constitutions with contempt.

Against his belief in patriotism, he will find African politicians who will sell the souls of their nations for the earnings a prostitute makes in just three months.

Against his notion that public trust can only be earned by doing business in the light of day, he will find rulers who insist that public trust is equivalent to the secrecy with which they strike deals in the name of the citizenry.

Against his declared commitment to honesty, hard work and fair play, he will find marauders and political parasites who have vowed against fair play.

As for his warning to those who cling to power through corruption, deceit and the silencing of dissent, he will find election thieves in many places, starting with his ‘native Kenya’. I do not find Obama’s foreign policy team – headed by Hillary Clinton – particularly inspiring.

Africa’s despots have in fact generally dealt quite well with the various women who have wielded power at the State Department over the last 15 years or so. (Is there a Freudian or even Darwinian hint at the chemistry between women and the “tough guy”?)

If he remains true to his rhetoric, Obama should despise many of his African counterparts, but Ms Clinton may neither have the temperament nor a conscience clear enough to counter the tested combination of courteousness and intimidation mastered by Africa’s big men.

Obama is absolutely the first American President – and there may be no other one for a 100 years – with the racial security to transcend the formal limitations of the State Department and refuse to buy all that crap about the slave and colonial history as an excuse for the impunity of Africa’s rulers. If he does not chastise them, he would have betrayed those Africans who see him as a source of hope.

But Obama must also admonish Africa’s masses, who often cannot balance emotional attachment with national purpose; like South Africa’s African National Congress supporters, who have wilfully, and against all common sense, thrown away every opportunity to sideline a figure that seems set to evolve into one of tomorrow’s dinosaurs.

President Obama, can you?

1 Opinion(s):

WHITEADDER said...

Obama has other problems. But he will be in a better position to tell some African " leaders " to phuck off. Particulary those who do not have oil in their land.