The Nation (
8 June 2008
Posted to the web 9 June 2008
Kenyans are celebrating Senator Barack Obama's success in the US Democratic Party nomination, not because they expect goodies from him if he becomes the most powerful leader in the world; they know there won't be any.
At one level they are doing so because of a sense of kinship. His father was Kenyan, after all. But the bigger reason is that he is a role model for almost a billion black people in the world today who are used to coming last in everything important. The black race is the poorest, least powerful, most unhealthy, least hopeful of them all.
One of the least acknowledged facts of life is that being black is not the easiest thing in the world. A black person carried the legacy of slavery, colonialism and, increasingly, the failure of Africa to quickly pull itself out of the mire of poverty, war, hunger, disease and ignorance.
Even promising countries such as South Africa and our own have had their moments of madness.In their secret hearts, Africans see in Sen Obama's victory a confirmation that a black person can be anything he or she wants to be if they work hard enough and are smart and lucky enough.
In diplomacy they talk about the "ripe moment," when all factors arrange themselves to suit a deal. Sometimes all it takes to arrange those factors into a ripe moment for the beginning of a brighter future is optimism and faith. And that is what Sen Obama has done for Africans.