But pride is where story starts and ends.
I know that at the back of many African presidents, there are hopes of frequent White House trips. I know African small and big fisadis are expecting generous aid packages that will flow directly to their pot bellies. I can bet my life on this – that there are Africans who are hoping that the African story will change, that the continent will now see prosperity.
Let me just rain on that parade before it gets started. Ain’t nothing going to change.
The high expectations are rooted in Africa’s own mentality and cultural tendencies – and that is of harboring tribalism. I can surely tell you that Luos in Kenya are feeling good right about now. That is because from a traditional view, Obama is not representing Michelle, Sasha, Malia and the American people alone, he is representing the entire Kogelo. He is representing cousins and aunts he has never met.
And that’s where the cultural warfare will begin.
See, the truth is that Barack grew up in the American culture, where having Kenyan roots is just that – having Kenyan roots. That is because America is formed by folks with ancestral roots in other countries. It just happens Barack can trace those roots one generation removed. I wonder if, in his mind, he views his role the way his Luo cousins view it.
Contrary to the African culture which promotes communal connectedness, the American culture (which Barack grew up in) stresses individual responsibility and accountability. As such, the hopes that Barack will now carry the load of the entire Luo “tribe” will meet a disappointing response.
Another stumbling block for my African brothers will be this – while Obama will be the most powerful man on earth, his political power does not go unchecked. I know, I know, African presidents have all the power. So if you think Luos will start getting Federal jobs like Kibaki offers them to Kikuyu in Kenya, sorry amigos. The American system of true checks and balances will hold Barack primarily responsible and accountable to the American people, and not to his own family and friends.
I can only predict one thing: that by the virtue of Obama being black, he will actually have the power to crush and whip crazy mentalities that African leaders have held for years, without being accused of exercising some sort of a Western supremacy. If his trip to Kenya as a Senator – where he urged Kenyans to act tough on corruption was any indication, then expect more tough stances.
My point is this – Obama is not an African president. He is the president of the United State of America. The sooner that sinks in the minds of Africans, the better.