Obama is American. And that is the important thing.

There seems to be a bit of a tussle going on between Sudan and Kenya at the moment, about who can claim the biggest stake in America’s new president elect.

Much has been written about Obama’s Kenyan roots, with his father hailing from the West of the country. But it has also been pointed out that his ancestral tribe, the Luo, originally came from just across the border, in Sudan.

This discussion isn’t actually new, at least not among those that dwell on such subjects. But nonetheless it still surprised me to hear that the SPLM, the former southern rebels, were holding a party last Saturday in Obama’s honour. (They had postponed it for a week as a sign of respect for the secretary-general of the Umma Party, who was recently killed in a car crash). I had been meaning to go, but I have been suffering from a cold recently and so decided to stay home instead.

I find it a little odd and rather unnerving that so many in Africa seem to feel affiliation with Barrack Obama, when, as he himself has been desperate to make clear, he his a born-and-bred American, with an American agenda. But then one reflects on what the last eight years has brought the world – and one starts to understand where such euphoria is coming from.

The important thing to remember, however, is that Obama is not Kenya nor Sudanese. He is American. Through and through. And that is a good thing.

It might also be advisable to sprinkle the recent festivities with a small dose of sobriety. It is precisely because Obama has tribal roots in Africa (whether they be Kenyan or Sudanese) that he will have to tread so carefully in the region. Anything that smacks of favouritism will provide ready ammunition for his opponents, and Obama is certainly going to want another term in office.

But the election of Obama is a good thing. As I have suggested previously, what really needs to happen now as far as the USA is concerned is a change of world opinion. And, judging by the whoops of delight coming from the SPLM corner at the moment, this is certainly on the up. But I wouldn’t expect too much to change too quickly. And, on certain things, I think Obama will be very cautious about softening his stance. Sudan included.


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2 Responses to “Obama is American. And that is the important thing.”

  1. Violet Says:

    Not everyone in south Sudan is impressed by Obama. And I think that is a good thing. The south Sudanese have suffered much from the Muslims, as you well know, and the connection Obama has with Islam, as well as his internationalist and open-border tendencies, mean more Muslims in the West and more power to them generally.
    I met south Sudanese who had more faith in white people than in black people, believe it or not, when it came to governance of countries. They could see the nepotism and corruption in their own leaders. Not all black people are obsessed with “black power”.

  2. blakerig Says:

    Enough people are impressed for Obama’s election to make a difference. And that is the important thing.

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