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06.11.2008 Editorial

Obama`s World, and our own telling parallels

One of the symbolisms that the ultimate wordsmith used in his victory speech is worth paraphrasing here to draw lessons for us in Ghana: He said Rosa Parks sat so that Martin Luther could walk, Martin Luther walked so that Obama could run, and Obama walked so that our children could fly… Those words are all too familiar that the leader of the brave new world, now in capturing his vision of America which holds out so much promise could be tapped in by everybody, including Senator John McCain and his supporters in an all inclusive government of the people by the people and for the people. Not once did Obama speak about his race in his speech in ways that Ghanaians, Kenyans and Africans as a whole should expect from this all American hero; that at last with Obama ensconced in the White House, Africa would expect dividends by way of an increase in aid or preferential treatment for the continent. That would be perpetuating dependency and fostering the very things that he believed in and waged a two year campaign in imprinting in the consciousness of the American people to 'believe in themselves as Americans, that if they set their mind to it, and work very hard at an objective, there is nothing that the American people cannot achieve as a collective. If its in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the economy which is swirling around them and wreaking havoc in the lives of everyday Americans, they can beat it; Its change they want; change they believe in, and change they can bring about; 'Yes we can', is the now all too familiar refrain of the Obama campaign team and his army of three million young people who worked the net to spread the message of hope and belief in the “Can Do” spirit that has brought so much hope and satisfaction to the American people. Obama's three million young campaigners are not expecting anything from him financially, but just to be part of history in rejecting the old ways of doing things, and bringing about change they believe in; Yes we can. If there is anything that The Chronicle would have loved for Obama to have included in his victory speech it would have been a concession to McCain that the Madiba Nelson Mandela wanted when he run for office, that it was important that there should be the structures of resistance to effectively trot out the tampering power of the Senate in checking the Executive. After all that is what the balance of power in the democratic system they taught us is about. Anyway, Obama's remarks were remarkably somber and not triumphalist. And he did not get the filibuster- proof senate that he so clearly wanted. If there is anything similar to us in Ghana, it is one message that we have been hearing consistent from one man out of the many who are seeking the mantle to lead. One man has singularly taught us to Believe in Ghana (BIG) and have taught the youth of Ghana, the musicians, the university students, the disabled, the old and the infirm to believe in themselves, believe in Ghana, to eschew violence and believe in the power of change. So the first challenge for the new president will be to help Americans recover their sense of optimism. Franklin D Roosevelt had to combat that when he took over in the very much worse economic conditions of 1933. Those famous words in his Inaugural Address are worth quoting in full: "So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyses needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." That to Ghanaians is one message that keeps coming up whenever the ex-President and the party he founded come up. The New Patriotic Party's presidential candidate on the other hand offers an Obama-like message that has been drummed up in our ear drums for a year now, and it is a message that should carry the country forward into the next millennium. It is a refreshing change which Ghanaians can identify with, who can't 'believe in Ghana, and believe in yourself.

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