21 January 2013

Tanzania: Obama Inaugurated in Small Ceremony

Photo: White House/Pete Souza
President Barack Obama greets spectators after making a speech to the Ghanaian Parliament in Accra on July 11, 2009.

Washington DC — PRESIDENT Barack Obama was sworn-in officially for his second and final term in the Blue Room of the White House on Sunday surrounded by a small group of family and friends, in accordance with the US constitution, which states that the American head of state will be inaugurated on January 20 of the year following his or her election.

He won the election on November 20, 2012 against Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.However, this year that date fell on a Sunday when most government offices are closed.

The celebrations therefore, were moved to Monday (today) when the president is expected to deliver his inaugural speech and go through a mock-swearing-in ceremony at the House of Congress or Capitol Hill, mostly for the benefit of spectators and the many people who have come here from other states and around the world to witness the second inauguration of the first African-American president in American history.

The oath of office was delivered by Chief Justice John Roberts, the same person who ran President Obama through the historic ceremony four years ago and somewhat along the way bungled the wording of the serious ritual, forcing the president to take the oath a second time in the momentous and euphoric moment in the game of political power never before seen in this great nation that still grapples with a thorny racial question.

"I voted for him last November because I care for social issues and I agree with his stand on those issues," said Marielle Young, a student at Georgetown University here. She did not vote four years ago as she was still young but her sympathies were with him. The economy is still struggling from a damp period but no one can achieve everything, she added.

Arguably, the celebrations this year do not compare to 2009 for obvious reasons, including the fact that the first can never be compared to the second but the occasion is no lesser historic. First, it proves Obama's victory four years ago was not a fluke but the outcome of hard won strategic campaigning both in the party primaries and the presidential poll that followed.

Yesterday's ceremony was an irrefutable signature of Obama's acceptance by the American people, a political shift with global implications in a prejudice filled world.

A small number of individuals will no doubt remain racist but overall, Americans have written a new chapter in their national life and character and underscored a new demographic that President Obama, though not exactly its founder, he is no doubt its most profound architect.

Observers note that Democrats had never won in predominantly white Virginia, which borders Washington DC but they took the state this time around because of changed demographics.

There are more than before a growing population of Hispanics and Indians, who traditionally tend to vote Democrat. But perhaps Obama's biggest legacy was his success to steer through Congress legislation that gave Americans universal healthcare, a dream the president had at the time he wrote his political autography, The Audacity of Hope, long before he even became the Democratic presidential nominee.

He was sworn-in holding two Bibles, one that belonged to President Abraham Lincoln (Obama's role model and the man he adores as a leader) and the other that was once used by Rev.

Martin Luther King Jr, the black civil rights leader, ironically martyred for an American social justice Prophet, moments after he had delivered his iconic "I have a Dream" speech at the footsteps of the Lincoln Memorial Library at the Mall, about a mile straight ahead from the Capitol, where Obama took his second oath of office.

Obama's inaugural address is expected to shed light on his policy priorities in his second term. The president, whose mother was a white American and his father came from Kenya, paid little attention to Africa in his first term. Admittedly, Obama is a "world president" that everyone wants a piece of but perhaps it is time for Africa also to benefit more from his "Audacity of Hope" and "Dreams from My Father", the two books he wrote to accentuate his political views and philosophy.

President Obama was born in Hawaii and has also made history as the first American president from the isles, driving home the awakening that the continents away Pacific archipelago, was not merely a symbolic 51st state of the US but an equal partner in the "commonwealth" of the world's leading superpower.

Earlier in the day, Vice-President Joe Biden was first to be sworn-in at the Naval Observatory by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and only fourth woman to hold the post. She was also the first Hispanic person to administer a Vice-Presidential inaugural oath of office.She told a TV interviewer before: "it will feel a little surreal."

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