Is Africa still Obama country?

Since my last post, candidate Barack Obama has won two states – a caucus in Hawaii and a primary in Wisconsin – and seemingly appears the candidate to beat for the Democratic nomination. John McCain, a big winner in Wisconsin and the state of Washington, is his party’s presumptive nominee for the Republic Nomination.

The fight will move on to the big contests of March, where voters in Ohio and Texas will choose. Some African bloggers are not discounting the chances of Democrat Hillary Clinton from catching Obama, but others are beginning to discuss the possibility of November showdown of Obama versus McCain.

There’s been a lot of talk that Barack Obama doesn’t have a good grasp of the nuance of different political policies. His speeches are often described as “feel good” and “full of emotion,” but they are most self-referential and contain no references to specific policies or any details on how he will carry those ideas out.

Here is a good example of all the emotions tied into an Obama event from Whispering Inn, who saw Obama speak in Dallas, Texas:

An energetic Obama ran onto the stage bringing the entire arena to its feet waving placards and chanting “Obama!” and “Yes We Can!”

It's easy to see why Obama's following has been labeled cult-like.

Obama's speech — punctuated by wild cheering every few sentences — brought the crowd to a wide-ranging array of emotions. The ecstatic crowd cried, shouted, and cheered itself hoarse as Obama hit on the high points of his message.

When it was all done, I felt spent. I had been on such an inexplicable high — yapping to the people around us, high-fiving everyone, and just letting myself go.

ForIIegar a ti, from Uganda, however, it's Obama’s fundamental idea of change that is not only uplifting, but transcending.

Change in no more than my “neighbour” from Kogelo near the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya.

Barack Obama is who I am talking about.

As the Democrats and Republicans continue the scramble for delegates in the USA presidential primaries, the Illinois Senator is defying odds. From the very first primary, let alone his first intent for presidency, Senator Rhodman Hillary Clinton has been the over all favourite.

Just two months into the journey, Obama has changed hearts. His unrivaled oratory a side, policies enshrined in his camp have gained a marvelous following. Voters who prior to the campaigns were pro-Hillary are gradually shifting camps to the African American. These mainly were women and the elderly.

South Africa's Andrew LaGrange dismisses criticisms of Obama’s grasp of issues and feels that, if elected, his presidency will be much more radical and hand’s-on than one gives him credit for.

Wonks may say that the Obama campaign lacks specifics, and is just a general call for change in Washington. That is in and of itself a bold policy, and a broad platform. By defining his campaign as one of change, Obama has given himself a wide surface area of achievables; he will be held to account, and the yardstick will be his capability to fight for change in Washington.

In Obama, America may have its first Activist President, someone divorced from political careerism, who instead views the Presidency as a forum to affect governmental reform; this is the kind of stuff normally left to third, fourth and fifth party candidates who don’t stand a hope in hell of winning the Presidency.

Obama’s campaign however has the backing of a large (majority) portion, of the largest political party in the United States. There is a very real possibility that Obama will be able to fight for change from the top: but that fight won’t be easy to win, and probably won’t be won by him or any other president. But the party structures in the U.S. are being sent a strong message by the electorate, on both sides of the aisle: We (the People) don’t like your politics anymore, and we will do anything, choose anybody who promises us a decent change from the status quo, 13 page economic policy documents be damned (how did Hillary think this was a good idea?)

Still in South Africa, Kristin Palitza supports Hillary Clinton not only because of her strong grasp of the issues, but because she appears to be the stronger candidate in November.

It’s not because she, like me, is a woman (although it would be nice to have the most powerful person in the world be a woman for once). And it’s not that I don’t think much of Obama. In fact, I think I prefer Obama to Clinton … he is not only smart (they both are) but he also has the ability to connect with people, while Clinton’s addresses sound too rehearsed. I also like his ideas on affordable, quality healthcare, progressive education policies and, of course, his opposing the war in Iraq.

But still, I hope that Hillary will eventually outrun him. My main reason for wanting her to come out tops is purely strategic: I believe she will be the stronger candidate against McCain. And while I would be happy with either Clinton or Obama as president, I know one thing for sure: we simply can’t have another Republican US president, especially not a John McCain who unwaveringly supports the war in Iraq and is more than likely to continue George W’s invasion spree.

After looking at where Obama stands on the Political Compass, Red Star Coven (a South African living in Glasgow) argues that the candidate’s politics may differ from his own, but he’s still giving him his support.

He's in the authoritarian, right wing quadrant – the dark side of the Force, and quite the opposite of where I, and all my friends, are (I am the one that's almost off the scale of left wing lunacy):
And yet.

The US is the most powerful country in the world. White supremacy is still one of the most dominant political poisons in the world. For a Black man with a Muslim name – Barack means ‘blessed’ in Arabic – to become president has got to mean something.

Sometimes leaders are men or women of their times, people who embody something greater than themselves. Maybe Obama is a symbol of real change in America.
I hope so. And I hope he wins. A Black president of the most powerful country in the world would be a real blow to racists everywhere.

If you’re wondering whether African bloggers have any other candidates in mind, I am not coming across it. (Please send me links of people supporting others.) Even the South African conservative Biblio Polit questions McCain’s credentials. Leo Africanus, a South African living in New York City, points out U.S. President George W. Bush couldn’t escape Obamania during his six-day, five-country trip to the continent.

George Bush is avoiding ‘trouble spots’ and focusing on the ’successes’ in Africa this week. All to build his ‘legacy‘ and counter his unpopularity as his second, and last term, runs to a close at home. But the Africans he meets is less interested in his preoccupations and wants to know about the fortunes of one Barack Obama.

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