First things first: (his brains aside) Barack Obama is handsome, cool, and energizing like a drop of dew on an October morn.
By ancestry, Obama is an African and it’s not far-fetched to say through him the ancestors have spoken with a voice that has resonated across the globe, rebranding the black image. Just like me, my friend Innocent has been glued onto Obama’s presidential campaign.
We both know the twist and turns of the law professor cum US Senator cum presidential candidate’s campaign trail like our hidden souls.
“Obama is a shining star of our generation, and his rise has been nothing less than meteoric. He represents a line of great inspirational and transformational leaders like Nelson Mandela, and he’s making history right before our eyes,” says Innocent.
I couldn’t agree more: if anything, Obama’s decision to run for presidency is one of the best things to happen to Africa after Mandela.
Apart from his personality, Obama’s message of hope, if actualized, is one that can potentially heal global wounds inflicted by increasingly belligerent US policies over the past eight years of George Bush’s rule. In fact, I must admit that that I have become emotionally, spiritually and intellectually hitched to the Obama star over the past two or so years of the US presidential campaign trail.
With all due credit to Obama, he has managed to build a golden stair that has resonated with many people across the world. For the first time in my life, I have absolutely fallen in love with public service life, courtesy of Obama.
Besides Innocent, I have three other friends who have adopted Obama’s now ubiquitous campaign tagline: “Yes, We Can” as their email and Skype signatures. I guess nothing could be more revealing of Obama’s spirited influence in my part of the world. Even the ever-persevering local opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) made a play on Obama’s other campaign tagline: “Change You Can Believe In” adapting it to “Change You Can Trust”.
And in politics of change and accountability, long-suffering Zimbabweans hope, believe and trust. It’s not just that Obama is black and has an African birthright (being born of a Kenyan father and American mother) that makes him endeared to many people in Zimbabwe, both young and old. Instead, it’s a unique combination of his personal characteristics that makes him appear like a human magnet: it’s in his self-controlled poise, his dress code, his gait, his stable family, his faith and his jewel-like, polished oratory.
And of course, in Zimbabwe’s case, Obama is a symbolic alternative to our warped, stagnant and geriatric driven political scene. In other words, against a background of hate-filled, finger-pointing and acrimonious political atmosphere that barely addresses issues of public good, Obama’s rhetoric is indeed a welcome and inspirational respite. In a way, Obama perfectly articulates the spirit and desire of the majority of Zimbabweans who are desperate for change and transformation.
The post-colonial period in my country as in most parts of Africa has been characterized by corruption and political inefficiency, and by virtue of his paternal connection to the continent, Obama’s message strikes a deep chord. For me, as a young black man with deeply held hopes and dreams to make a contribution to my society through writing and publishing, Obama is a role model who has helped me to reshape a paradigm free of the confined identities of slavery, subjugation, racialism and colonialism.
There’s no doubt that Obama has set himself so high a standard and will have to prove himself (if elected as US’s 44th President) but the fact remains: his mantra “Yes, We Can” will forever be imprinted on our collective African imagination and will inspire generations to come.