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Obama makes history

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In the space of a few days, the Caribbean has witnessed two events of tremendous social implication. Last Saturday, the Caribbean’s premier cricketers made sporting history by winning the biggest ever prize for an international sporting event, US $20 million, in beating an England team in the Allen Stanford-sponsored 20/20 spectacular in Antigua. Three days later, Caribbean people had further cause for rejoicing when Black American Barack Obama made an indelible imprint on world history by becoming the first person of colour to be elected President of the United States of America.{{more}}

Obama’s victory is more than a milestone for black people, it is a victory of hope; it is a victory for democracy. His victory also demonstrates that the United States has come much farther along in its race relations than many had given it credit for, as Obama’s victory could never have been possible without the building of a broad coalition of interests that cut across racial lines. He received overwhelming support not only from African Americans, but from young people, single women, Hispanics and college educated voters.

In the space of one Presidential term, he was able to leap from relative obscurity as a brilliant community activist to being elected to fill the highest office in his country. On his slender shoulders now rest the enormous burden of leading the United States out of financial, economic and social morass as well as fulfilling the hopes and expectations of billions of people the world over.

More than any of his predecessors, there will be great pressure on Obama to succeed, for, in his case, failure cannot be an option. Many American Presidents have passed through the Oval Office without making a mark. Some have been abject failures, others a burden to the people of the world. Obama will have no such luxury. Every mistake, every error in judgement will be placed not only at his feet, but at the feet of all people of colour, the world over. His performance will, unfairly so, be used as an indicator of his people’s capacity to govern and perform at the highest level. It is in the best interest of all that he succeeds. As we congratulate him, we extend very best wishes for his success.

In the case of Stanford, success is the name of the game. Yet, just as Obama’s success has highlighted our potential and possibilities, Stanford’s has heightened further the contradictions in Caribbean cricket. First, he has demonstrated that our people can succeed by relying on our homegrown talent. The $20 million victory is a reaffirmation of the innate strength of our own abilities (coaches, Stanford legends etc). The West Indies Cricket Board appears not to possess that faith in our own.

It is debatable whether an eleven selected by the West Indies Board and under its auspices, including coach and management, would have been able to take the multi-million dollar prize for the region. But such has been the litany of errors and embarrassments by the Board, that fans are now placing more faith, sadly, in the private outfit of Allen Stanford than in their own Board.

Just as we wish Barack Obama Godspeed, so, too, do we in the Caribbean crave success on the one international sporting stage. That must mean directing our efforts at the national and regional level to put our cricketing house in order and so restore pride in our cricket.