Daily Trust (Abuja)

12 November 2012

Africa: Obama - No Lessons Yet for Continent

opinion

Mni — President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda was among the earlier African callers that reportedly congratulated President Barack Obama upon his victory for a second term in the White House, Yoweri Museveni has been in office for a quarter of a century, having seized power at the head of a rebel army in 1986 two years before Obama became a summer associate at the Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin and ten years-Obama was elected to Illinois Senate, in 1966.

The truth of the matter is that President Obama met Museveni in office (and after the notorious removal of two-term limit by Museveni during the last election) President Obama might very well leave Museveni behind in office. What democratic moral authority does Museveni have to then celebrate American democratic process, he would not allow in Uganda?

The most cheeky and hypocritical commentary however was from Harare, Zimbabwe. According to news agency report, ZANU-PF has hailed "democratic" America, with party officials claiming Barack Obama's win over Republican nominee Mitt Romney is a victory against racists. We were also told that President Robert Mugabe's party had been silently praying for Obama's win. The critical question is; in how many African countries would have allowed President Obama to be a presidential candidate talk less of winning two presidential elections in quick succession?

In Nigeria Obama would have been a victim of citizenship identity crisis. He would have been labelled a settler declared non eligible to be a citizen. He would have been zoned out no thanks to politics of rotation. Of course with sit- tight ruthless leaders like Mugabe, Obama could not have been a presidential hopeful in the Mugabe enclave.

Obama's clear victory at the November 6th 2012 America's election has shown that the sustainable democratic politics is the one based on the aspirations of the people. Obama won the election not because of the "colour of his skin", but because of the content of "his character" and content of his vision for America as Dr Martin Luther King Jr. once prophetically prayed for.

It is legitimate for every African to identify with Obama's victory rather paradoxically on account of colour rather than content of the policies of Obama. Africa should however know that Obama is an American President elected by Americans. He is not the one to fix Africa's problems. On the contrary we Africans are to fix our problems. The truth is that throughout the election campaigns the entire continent of Africa never featured in the debates (for better or for worse) of the two candidates. China understandably captured the imaginations of the two Presidential candidates because China has thrown up development challenges.

This is the time for Nigerian politicians in particular to bury politics of religion and ethnicity based on sharing who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love.

Did African leaders read Obama's acceptance speech? According to him "It doesn't matter whether you're black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you're willing to try." We should judge Obama based on his politics not on the colour of his skin as the likes of Mugabe dubiously did.

We should focus more on the capacity of the office holder to deliver and not about rotational presidency based on corruption, greed and underdevelopment.

It is a sad commentary that whereas Africa produces someone who is presiding over a free and democratic world like America, the continent is still faced with sit-tight rulers like Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and Uganda's Yoweri Museven,i who on account of sit-tightism refuse to make the continent free.

Until recently Mugabe polarized the Africa continent and indeed the world either for (in support of the land reform) or against Zimbabwe (for free and fair elections). But today it is Zimbabwe versus the whole world as Mugabe digs in into political isolation at the age of 86 or so yet claiming to be still fit to be in office. Six American Presidents from Jimmy Carter in 1981 to Obama today have outlived Mugabe in office. So much for African lessons from American election!

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