African Blogosphere On Obama's Inauguration

“It is done. I knew it would come, but, oh, what a feeling! Yes, Mr. President, it is done, indeed!” These words from Kenyan blogger Whispering Inn sum up the emotional responses of most bloggers in the African blogosphere to the historic inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America.

While the world was watching Obama, Rob was watching Kenyans as they were celebrating “the second coming” with beer. Rob is a freelance journalist writing about Africa for The Times, The Irish Times, The Daily Mail, The Scotsman and The Christian Science Monitor from Nairobi.

While the rest of the world was watching the inauguration of the 44th US president, I couldn’t help feeling Kenya was watching the second coming. Down in Kibera (Africa’s biggest slum) the mood was electric. Most of the people I spoke to seemed to have been drinking since very early and everyone had a wishlist of things they wanted Obama to do for the land of his father.

The combined talents of Aretha Franklin, Joe Biden and Yo-Yo Ma failed to silence the drinkers at the Urafiki Green Pub in the heart of Kibera, Africa’s biggest slum.

Thousands gathered in the narrow dirt alleys and dusty clearings of the slum to enjoy the moment, chanting “Yes we can”. Hush fell only when the tiny television set in the corner of the ramshackle bar room filled with the distinctive features of America’s 44th President.

“This man is Jesus,” shouted one man, spilling his Guinness as Barack Obama began his inaugural address. “When will he come to Kenya to save us?” If Barack Obama’s spin doctors have been trying to lower expectations since his election victory, the message clearly has not reached the land of his father.

Mama has never seen Kenyans in the celebratory mood they were in yesterday:

Kenyans were in a celebratory mood like I have never seen before, half the people in Nairobi city centre that I came across yesterday were wearing Obama t-shirts. It was nice to see even MPs at the KICC watching the proceedings on telly…I believe I saw Rachel Shebesh (my new heroine) on the front row in the hall. Amaco even donated an Obama cake and the guys at KICC did all the standing and whatever that the guys at the inaugural proceedings were doing, it was a fun occassion. Citizen chose to concentrate its efforts in Kogelo (where I saw some wazungus!?) and I believe I saw annoying Nagila of NTV at the Carnivore interviewing some Canadians. University of Nairobi students were treated to not only the live broadcast, but also to some music from Kenyan ‘celebrities’ as well.

Rafiki Kenya's post titled “Malia Obama Capturing History,” which focuses on Obama's daughter, Malia:

Malia Obama was capturing history earlier today, with the First Daughter filming her father as he made his first speech as President of the World.

Malia – who was dressed in a striking blue and black coat – is regularly spotted with a camera in hand at her father's events. She has been busy documenting her father's historic days with a small digital camera. Reports indicate that Malia Obama's “camera of choice” is actually the Kodak EasyShare M893.

Charcoal Ink defends Obama's daughters in her post titled, “Like Barack said, Children are *off* limits”:

I was just reading one post about what the female members of the Obama family were wearing. I thought they looked brilliant. And then someone said that Sasha & Malia looked like they were 40.

This really rubbed me the wrong way because people can hate on Marack all they want, as Barack and Michelle are two grown ups but criticising what the kids are wearing is butters behaviour to me. At least if Sasha & Malia were at least 16, I could understand because they are on their way to be adults but they are too young to be scolded in such harsh ways.

Dr. Stephen Karanja looks at the event in the context of failed leadership in Africa. He identifies two lessons from Obama's historic achievement:

The first lesson goes to the African leaders. True leadership is about uniting the people not dividing them. The evils bedevilling Africa from poverty, disease, ignorance, illiteracy, war, hatred, bigotry, corruption, you name it is a result of false leadership. Obama has demonstrated that true leadership does not thrive on the misery of its people but on the hope and inspiration it brings to the people. On the other hand, African leaders have used all tactics in their possession to divide the people on ethnic, religion, and regional lines in order to get and remain in power. If Obama had listened to bigotry he would not have won the presidency. Through his actions and words he proved that the presidency was not about African-American turn but about the best candidate. How many times have we heard African leaders shout themselves hoarse “it our turn now”. By projecting himself as the best candidate, Obama won the hearts and minds of the people. True leadership is about winning the hearts and minds of the people and not preaching divisive hatred and fear.

The second challenge is to the African, black and all trodden people – complain about the wrongs done to you but do not embrace a victim attitude. Do not let anger and bitterness overtake you. Abhor the injustice suffered but do what you must do to uplift yourself. In Obama’s words, “never succumb to despair or cynicism; you must always believe that you can write your own destiny.” If Obama had emphasised his disadvantages, he would not have had the capacity to dream big and go for presidency. He would have consoled himself by saying “no African-American can ever win the presidency”. But he dreamt and his dream came true.


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