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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The 44th President of the United States of America

Barack Obama's resounding victory in America's 2008 presidential election is truly historic. Few moments and events leave me speechless!

For a majority of Americans, nearly 52%, this is an incredibly significant outcome. It is truly audacious. As a King dreamed, his children now live a nation where they are not judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. This dream has become true.

In this election, in these truly momentous days, Americans have elected to turn the page and make history.

As Obama said, the journey that began on a cold winter day on the steps of the capital does not end in Grant Park. The election victory is not the culmination of the change America needed but a chance to make the change happen.

As a young African watching history unfold, Obama's victory is cause for great celebration and deep reflection for my generation. The fundamental problems that confront African countries and the continent's leadership need a new army of leaders who are not mired in the old politics of ethnicity, self interest and raw political ambition.

What is needed is a cadre of young leaders who perceive politics not as game that field's one ethnic group against another, harping on old stereotypes and using religion as wedge to divide society. But rather a generation that conceives politics as a platform for competing ideas, ideals, values and strategies for solving the most urgent problems of society such as poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, inequity and lack of opportunity for the majority. Politics like science must be amenable to proof; we must see, touch and feel the transformative power of a government that is responsible and accountable to the people. The ideal of democracy must be made real; government of the people by the people for the people.

My sense is that Obama set the back drop and context for his electoral victory. His speech was not celebratory. He reigned in the adoring and cheering crowds. He guided the mood toward the reality of the challenges ahead. He set the stage for a night of reflection and introspection. He spoke about the 106 year old woman who cast her vote in Atlanta Georgia. This African American woman got him thinking about the world he would like his daughters to live in if they were to live to be 106 years old.

As Barack Obama walked away from the podium and turned around to acknowledge the wild and ecstatic cheers from an adoring crowd, I can almost swear that I saw his shoulders re-align and re-calibrate to bear the inestimable enormity of the burden of Leader of the Free World.

The election of Barack Obama as America's next president is an endorsement of youth, audacity and the refusal to settle for the world as it is, but to fight to re-make the world as it ought to be.

And yes, we also can.


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