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Obamania Catches Malawians

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Malawi, Democratic Party, Government & Politics, International Relations

Malawi though so far away from the US and economically poor, has its citizens following the US elections closely as if it something happening in their own backyard. For some, the US elections offer an interesting parallel as Malawi is holding its presidential and parliamentary elections next year. But the most important reason is probably the close race between Senators Hillary Clinton, a woman, and Barack Obama, who has race links to Africa.

A political scientist and Malawian blogger, Boniface Dulani [1] looks at the US elections in light of Malawi’s politics and elections. After highlighting lessons for Malawi, Dulani openly says if he were to vote, he would go for Obama though either Hillary or Barack would make history in the US if elected.

Either of the two candidates will make history: if elected, Obama will be the first Black President in the United States, while Clinton would be the first woman President. While both candidates have more or less identical policies on most major issues, I am reluctant to lend my support to Hilary Clinton on one count and one count alone: in a country of nearly 300 million people, I cannot be convinced that there are only two households that can produce Presidents: the Bushes and the Clintons. While Clinton has campaigned on a platform of long years of public service, I have to say I am not persuaded to think that simply because one was a First lady, then they are prepared for the presidency.

He explains that his choice for Obama is because Obama would bring new breath to the foreign policy of the US.

Of the two democrats, only Obama has the potential to bring about real change in American politics as well as to change the negative image of the United States elsewhere. Judging by his foreign policy statements, I am convinced this is a man who will not only bring in a new era of international politics that is less confrontational, but would also move us away from the unilateralism that has marked US foreign policy in the last couple of years.

In post titled Say no to Politics on Weekends, Lilongwe-based female blogger Thandi Soko [2] seems to cautiously support Dulani’s choice by simply hoping that Obama would win but adds:

Obama is not a clear winner yet. So what else is new?

Mlauzi [3], who blogs about the rebirth of Africa, supports Obama’s attempt in the presidential nomination describing this as an opportune moment for the global solidarity as it relates to race. Writing under the title Beneath Obama’s rebuke of Jeremiah Wright: Is a new global consciousness afoot? he says:

More than a Pan-Africanist, Obama also carries sharp Third World instincts, aware of and in tune with the global solidarity that unites peoples of the world colonized and exploited by Europe and America.

Mlauzi adds that as a black presidential hopeful in the US, Obama should expect many burdens yet at the same time seems to be the right candidate to take them on.

Obama appears to have the capacity to shoulder these burdens, although he must pretend to represent a parting of ways with such expectations. It is a balancing act tough enough to tire out the most seasoned athlete. For some, this parting of ways warrants little more than subdued ambivalence that an Obama presidency would do anything for black America, Pan-Africa and the Third World.

The presidential aspirants are also being heavily debated amongst listservs and race and religion seem to bring the debate closer to most Malawians.