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Obama on the way

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06.JUNE.08

The United States of America is indeed a mighty country gifted with enormous resources. It is also a country of great contradictions. Founded on the genocide of its native peoples and the forceful expropriation of their territory by colonial expansion, it became a major anti-colonial force, itself waging a valiant and successful war of Independence against Britain and later giving succour to other independence struggles in the hemisphere.{{more}} Yet that same Declaration of Independence, proclaiming the freedom and dignity of man, harboured slavery within its bowels and refused to acknowledge the equality of blacks, women or the rights of its native peoples.

Long after the American state was founded, these glaring inequities continued to exist. Indeed it became an irony in itself that while the former colonial power was forced to concede emancipation in 1838, the USA continued to be a slave-owning country. It took the American Civil War of 1855-1865 before that same formal emancipation could be won, and even then, the rights of blacks continued to be proscribed within that great “democratic” state. Another century elapsed before first the Civil Rights Bill of 1964, and later the Voting Rights Act of 1965, permitted the full enfranchisement of blacks in the US political process.

In spite of all these obstacles, the black population in the USA has steadfastly advanced its claims for full political rights. Black leaders from the time of the legendary Frederick Douglas and Dr. William DuBois, right down to the sixties in the persons of Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, have, at great personal sacrifice, unflinchingly advocated full rights for their people. In spite of the history of betrayals by the two major political parties, American blacks enlisted in their ranks those of the Democratic party in particular, and have played a major role at Congressional and District levels in US politics.

As a result, the dream of one day having a Black President in the United States of America was not only born, but kept alive. Yet as recently as one year ago, there would be few among us so bold as to predict that such a time had come. Enter a bold, charismatic, intelligent young man by the name of Barrack Obama, throwing his hat into a ring against such formidable and tested opponents of the like of Hilary Clinton and John Edwards. In the space of one year, he has led a remarkable reconfiguration in US politics, generating support not just from his minority race but among large swathes of white voters at that.

The campaign for the Democratic nomination, between a Black Man and a White Woman, a representative of neither group ever having been chosen to lead the USA, has become one of the classics of US political history. At the end of it, Obama has been able to succeed where previous Black politicians of the pedigree of Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, Senator Carol Moseley Braun, and the Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have failed. He carries with him not just the hopes of blacks but of a new, democratic America, of an inclusive, democratic, non-belligerent people. He has our best wishes to go all the way to the White House.

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