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Africa: “Obama We Believe in You!”

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Iraq, Israel, Nigeria, South Africa, Democratic Party, Civil Rights & Ethnicity, Government & Politics, International Relations, War & Conflict

Reactions are continuing to pour in from bloggers around the world on Barack Obama's success in clinching the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in the race to the White House.

Not everyone from Africa is pleased Barack Obama has become the Democratic party’s presumptive nominee for president. Red Star Coven [1], a South African living in Scotland, claims in his headline: Obama Sells Out:

On the day of his victory over Clinton, when people around the world are hoping the prospect of an Obama presidency will result in a saner US foreign policy, Barack Obama sells out and betrays the millions of people around the world who have been rooting for him.
Because although only Americans get to vote, the fate of the world rests on these elections.
And Obama has just come out in favour of Israel. Check it out [2]:
Barack Obama has pledged unwavering support for Israel in his first foreign policy speech since declaring himself the Democratic nominee for president.
He told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac [3]), a prominent Jewish lobby, Israel's security was “sacrosanct” and “non-negotiable”.
(For the record, I think the BBC is wrong to call Aipac a Jewish lobby. It's a lobby group for the Israeli state. Jewish and Zionist are not synonymous, and it's dangerous and dishonest to imply that they are.)

Africa wants to know, what will the possibility of a Barack Obama presidency bring to the continent? In the South African blog Cunkuri [4], the erudite Deon van Wyk argues that because he is such a young candidate, Obama has not been tainted by politics as usual. However, if elected, he’ll have to convince the middle class voters to get behind his program. For international relations, African leaders who have been tainted with corruption should begin worrying now.

Its unlikely that family connections with Africa will sway policy, but there is a significant moral dividend in placing the continent higher on the agenda. And although race should not matter, when you are an African-American candidate you are obliged to heed black history. The so-called “roots” issue is deeply ingrained in African-American culture. For Africa that's a long way from getting a leg up in terms of policy issues, however, Obama may just be the the kind of politician that can transcend the entrenched debate and take it to a new level. The presidential race will likely be dominated by domestic issues and the Iraq war, but the Republican machine doesn't fight fair and Obama will be examined like never before…and that will include his position on Africa.

The real question, of course, is what would Africa want from Obama should he be victorious in November? This doesn't appear to be a man that will give corrupt politicians a free pass, particularly if they're African. Frankly, it may well turn out to be a bit of a shock for the continent's league of dodgy leaders. So, progressive change agent meets the old guard; my money's on the young guy with the idealism. Common sense also dictates that Obama isn't going to hold with old style African politics, especially when he's clearly focused on overturning the same thing in his own country. That can only mean the writing's on the wall for every tin pot dictator and warlord still scarring the face of the mother continent.

This one has gumption:

In a blog called hottestgossip.co.za, how much politics do you think they write about? Apparently quite a bit. Here’s the wrap up on Barack Obama winning the Democratic nomination [5]:

Mrs Clinton got her *** kicked to the curb!!!!!
Barack Obama effectively clinched the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday, based on an Associated Press tally of convention delegates, becoming the first black candidate ever to lead his party into a fall campaign for the White House…
Congrats Obama we believe in you!!!

From African Loft [6], who’s caretaker, Ayo, is Nigerian, but residing in Minneapolis, Minnesota, writes:

Barack Obama clinched victory Tuesday night in the Democratic presidential race, defeating Hillary Clinton after a marathon primary campaign and becoming the first black nominee for the White House in American history.
Mr. Obama, a 46-year-old rookie senator from Illinois, effectively wrapped up the nomination following a surge of endorsements from Democratic superdelegates and after receiving a clutch of ‘pledged delegates’ awarded after two final primaries in South Dakota and Montana.
“Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States,” Mr. Obama told supporters in St. Paul, Minn.
“America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past.”
But even as Mr. Obama proclaimed victory, Ms. Clinton did not concede defeat or acknowledge her rival had surpassed the 2,118 delegates needed to secure the nomination.
Instead she delivered a sometimes defiant, sometimes conciliatory speech that left Democrats guessing at her future plans.

As always, African Loft has a lively comment section. Here are a few:

From MISI [7]:

Congrats, Obama! History is unfolding before us. Who could have guessed a black man will become the democratic nominee? This is New America indeed.

From John [8] :

I stayed up late last night watching the coverage of this historic moment, realizing how fortunate I was to have witnessed it. Obama now stand among the biggies like MLK and JFK.
The clever media stunt of Hillary did not go unnoticed either. Several times during the discussion her name kept popping up, the fact that she did not concede defeat, and acknowledge the man Obama as the winner of the primaries.
Also, what up with the the “presumptive nominee”? Some folks just can’t see how a big-eared skinny name with a name like Barack Obama can beat the Clintons!

From Renegade Eye [9]:

The line of people to hear Obama in St. Paul, at the Xcel Center, was a mile long. He packed the building, with 10,000 people outside.