Ghana, August 25, 2008
The whole continent is totally for Obama
Now you could imagine that the US presidential race is of interest to Africans. Maybe more than Americans, Africans look to our democratic process as hope and validation of the possible - benevolent leadership that is responsive to its electorate.
And it's no secret that Africans loved Bill Clinton. As President, he put Africa on the political map and was deeply concerned with the continent. Bush on the other hand has mixed reviews.
Yes, he seems to push for more US government support, like Presidentâ€™s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the largest commitment ever by any nation for an international health initiative, yet wars in Iraq and Afghanistan do nothing to ender Africa's Muslims.
The candidacy of Barack Obama is a whole other scene.
Here is the son of an African immigrant, half-Kenyan in blood if not culture, a black ban, rising to the pinnacle of politics is the greatest country on earth. I get goosebumps just thinking about it, and I only have half the connection - I too am the son of an immigrant.
Can you even imagine the hope that Obama's story brings to the poor and disenfranchised, much less the motivated and skilled?
Here is a hint. As you leave the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, Nigeria you are greeted by a giant billboard proclaiming "The World Totally For Obama." How is that for subtle in the love for the first African-American presidential candidate?
To test just how much Africa loves Obama myself, I decided to go running in two different shirts. Half my trip, I Ran Against Bush. The other half of my trip, I said Yes We Can! Guess which shirt got roars of approval everywhere I went?
The photo at left is just one of the people who cheered when they read my shirt as I ran by in Accra, Ghana. Many people went so far as to run out in the street and cheer me. Now imagine the reception Americans would get in Africa if Obama was president!
We would be superstars again, and just by being President, even if he never set foot on African soil, Obama would give hope to one billion people in the greatest need.