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10.11.2008 US & Canada

Barack Obama is President: All hail the Chief

By I. K. Gyasi - Ghanaian Chronicle

WHEN THE thirteen British colonies of what is now the United States of America declared independence on July 4, 1776, they made a profound statement.

They stated, among other things, as follows: “We hold these truths to be evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

The true story is told that back in July 1847, Dred Scott, a black resident of Missouri in the United States of America, brought a suit in a Federal Court for his freedom.

Ten years later, his case finally reached the Supreme Court. The then Chief Justice, His Honour Mr. Justice Roger Taney, ruled as follows: “People of African descent is not and cannot be citizens of the United States, and that black people have no rights which whites are bound to respect. “See the book, ICE AND FIRE, by American black protestor, Eldridge Cleaver, co-written with George Otis).

One hundred and fifty-one years after Chief Justice Taney's racist verdict, a Blackman called Barack Hussein Obama has been elected President of the United States of America, and is awaiting a formal inauguration in January 2009. As they say, “God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.” Barack Hussein Obama is not your typical or mainstream African-American. Unlike the likes of Alex Haley (author of 'ROOTS'), Obama will never have to embark on a genealogical odyssey or DNA detective work to discover his roots.

His mother was white, while his father was a Kenyan immigrant. In other words, Obama is not a descendant of our ancestors who were cruelly transported to the so-called New World and forced to do back-breaking labour in the sugar and cotton fields, and in the homes of white people.

A number of “home grown” African-Americans (both parents black or one of them black) have kicked against what they considered to be “slave” names, and have chosen names that sound like Arabic or 'Muslim' names. A classic example is Cassius Marcellus Clay, who jettisoned that name and chose 'Mohammed Ali', the greatest and most colourful boxer. (No pun intended.)

The new President will not have to change his name from Robinson, or Jackson or Williams or Johnson, in favour of an Arabic-sounding or 'Muslim-'sounding one. He already has a “non-American” sounding one known as Barack Hussein Obama.

Still, Obama is a black American, for the simple reason that his father was black. In fact, if it was his mother who was black and his father white, the existing racial categorisation would still have made him a black person. So Obama is an African-American, a black person.

The American Presidential Election of 2008 must certainly go down as one of the greatest events, if not the greatest event of the Twenty-first Century.

Has any election in the United States, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, ever attracted such international attention as this year's November 4, 2008 election in “God's Greatest Country?”

As has already been done, the United States Presidential Election 2008 can only be described on 'first term' basis or in superlative terms.

In his losing speech, the patrician-looking John McCain described the election as “the most challenged,” the election with “the longest campaign,” “the most expensive,” one with “the heaviest turn-out,” etc.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) set a record when he became the first non-WASP President of the United States. WASP is an acronym for “White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant.”

Jack Kennedy was white, of course, of Anglo-Saxon ancestry from Ireland, but he was a Catholic, not a Protestant, and until he came along, no Catholic had been President of the United States.

Obama has also set a record as the first non-White person to be President of the United States. He is also the fourth youngest man to be President, after Presidents Roosevelt, Kennedy and Clinton.

I believe that Obama owes his astonishing, astounding and earth-shaking success partly to his razor-sharp intelligence, his oratorical powers, his organising ability, his squeaky-clean image, his confidence in himself, and his honesty, sincerity and simplicity.

Everything was done by the opposition to destroy him. For example, Mrs. Sarah Palin, the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, tried to link Obama disparagingly to Bill Ayers, someone who, in his youth, had carried out, “un-American activities” against his country. The charge miserably failed to stick.

There was nothing the media did not do to try to find evidence to trip him up and destroy him. They failed.

Of course, there were other factors that brought him success. After eight years of George Bush's minimal intelligence, a gung-ho policy that disastrously led the United States into war with Iraq and Afghanistan, a ruined economy, in which no one was assured of job security, and America's image abroad had sunk low, Americans were ready for change. The Wall Street credit crunch did not help the Republicans at all.

While it is certain that not every African-American voted for him, it is equally safe to speculate that he would have the majority of the black vote.

Of course, he could not have won solely on the basis of the black vote. He needed, and got votes from whites and other groups - racial, religious, business, etc.

The world-wide expectations of him are many. However, his immediate attention will undoubtedly be directed at such American matters as the shattered economy, the Wall Street crash, the reshaping of foreign policy and disengagement with dignity of American forces, especially in Iraq.

We in Africa should not expect a cornucopia of goodies from him merely because he is black. He is an American, and America interests, permanent as they have always been, will supersede all other interests, including African ones. Still, we enjoy the vicarious pleasure of knowing that in the Twenty-first Century, a Blackman is President of the most powerful and influential country in the world.

What! An African as President of the United States? What an apotheosis for Blacks in America and elsewhere!!!

At the beginning of the American Civil War, both the Confederate Forces of the South and the Union Forces of the North rejected black enlistment, because blacks were thought to be too inferior to know how to fight.

When blacks were later allowed to join the Union Forces, they were given half-pay at first and no special bounties for enlisting. By the end of the War, blacks had proved so brave that 23 (twenty-three) of them received the Medal of Honour, the Highest United States military award.

Today, a Blackman is President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States.

Dred Scott, rest in peace. You have won your freedom.