Rwanda: Bloody Shame That Ours Aren't as Uplifting
The New Times (Kigali)
7 November 2008
Posted to the web 7 November 2008
I woke up, Wednesday, bleary eyed and all, at exactly five o'clock in the afternoon but with a smile on my face. I was suffering from the Obama induced post-election hangover.
I'd been up the entire night, watching the tallies of each and every state as I bit my nails to the quick, having darkre of the Florida 2000 (where the Republicans 'stole' the elections) debacle.
But this year, we aren't to be denied; Sen. McCain gets to take his 'maverick' act back to the Senate while Mrs. Palin gets to shoot Moose for supper up in Alaska, while a young, black family gets to call the White House home for the next four years.
I'd been following the travails of young Obama since the first Primaries (all the while cursing the phenomena of time zones that forced me to be up till six in the morning). I felt elated by his win in the Iowa Caucuses and then cursed as he lost New Hampshire because of a certain woman's 'dark arts'.
Then for the proceeding months, I became Obama-maniac, reading each and everything that I could put my hands on; all the while snarling at each and every trick that the Clinton and GOP unleashed on, 'That One. Seriously, I think that if the election had been postponed for another month, I'd have become a nervous wreck.
When CNN declared him President-elect, I couldn't believe that victory was ours. I started having morbid thoughts; I saw that huge crowd that had come to celebrate his victory in Chicago and, instead of a happy crowd, I saw instead a haven of potential assassins.
My imagination was playing a mélange of scenes from the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and JFK. But alls well that ends well, he got through his speech without mishap, I got one last dose of "Yes We Can", and I got to bed at 8am.
I woke up to radio reports that there was an impromptu fete at the American Embassy in Kigali and its environs as people celebrated the Obama victory.
We should, in retrospect, ask ourselves this question; "what was it is about this man and this campaign that made even the most apolitical person pick a side?"
I'd hate to think it was because of his colour because that would bemean everything that he has come to stand for. I think it was because of what he symbolises; youth, idealism and opportunity.
These three things made even the most cynical of us believers. I've not been one to get excited by elections of any sort, in any country, including ours.
It's because these affairs have, more often than not, been dour and totally lacking in new ideas. Our politicians don't seem to be addressing audiences they respect but rather often seem to be talking down to us. Mr.Obama put it quite eloquently when he stated that this election "wasn't about him but about you".
He verbalized something that many politicians have failed to understand-that the only reason they are where they are is to be of service to the people. Of course, if you're a Robert Mugabe you don't give two hoots about serving the people but I'm not talking about him and others of his ilk.
You know, I'm not really a fan of over-aged politicians dictating the future of a young nation, but when I look around the African continent, I see grizzled old men refusing to collect their pension cheque.
As I continue scanning the African political landscape I see people using all manners of Machiavellian tactics to get just 'one more term' (not a hint of idealism in these folks, hell no) and I see nepotism and corruption. Lets be honest here; despite Obama's political skills, I couldn't see him becoming even a Mayor in most African nations.
Because he stands for all the things our own politicians never seem to aspire for, he keeps me up all night; because our politicians rarely take me to the heights they act like Valium. But not all's lost; they have four years to learn from Obama.
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