The Obama Phenomenon

Posted by By at 13 March, at 18 : 00 PM Print



The Obama Phenomenon


“It might sometime be necessary to cut off the hand that feeds you, if it stops you from feeding yourself.” – Malcom X.

Various terms, including phenomenon (Something notable: something that is out of the ordinary and excites people’s interest and curiosity), have been used to describe the rise of Senator Barack Obama’s to one of two of the leading Presidential Candidates in the Democratic Party’s race to the White House. Born of a White American mother and a Kenyan father, Mr. Osama has always been referred to as ‘Black.’ It says a lot about the confounding racial algebra in America that he’s considered Black as though his white mother does not count.

Of course, like every African, I am excited by the prospect of a black person occupying the White House. And like every human being, I also wish to see a change in the governance of the USA; a country that has all the potential to make the difference in the world but has, consistently, choose to promote evil over good.

But I caution here that we in Africa should not be too overjoyed or over enthused by a Barack Obama’s presidency. Yours truly studied political science and international relations at a campus of an American university in the Dutch city of Leiden. So, I should know a thing or two about the vast and mostly incomprehensible structures of the machinery that control the governance of the United States.

It’s important for us in Africa to bear some essential facts in mind, so that we do not raise our expectations of an Obama’s presidency to too high unrealistic proportions, lest we be sorely disappointed.

First of all, Mr. Obama, if (and God help him) elected, is not going to be a BLACK president. And he’s certainly not going to be an AFRICAN president. He’s going to be the president of the United States of America, elected by a ponderous electoral system, and beholding to the power movers of the United States of America.

Lesson to learn: Toni Morrison praised Bill Clinton to high heavens and she promoted him as the ‘first black president.’ We all witness how, when the chips are down, Bill Clinton revealed himself as a full blown racist like the rest of White America.

American political system is a study in daunting complexity. The US President is not as, is widely believe, a very powerful person. Mind you, the US Presidency is certainly a very powerful institution and there is always a majestic aura surrounding whoever occupies the Oval office. But to fully decode the American presidential institution, one has to go Rumsfeldian: There are the known knowns; there are the known unknowns and then there are the unknown unknowns. Try to figure that out.

Queen Elizabeth of England told her butler after the mysterious death of Princess Diana that: “There are powers at work in this country about which we have no knowledge.” There are certainly forces operating in the USA that ensures that no one just happen to become the President of the USA.

But first, if as every Civics book defines it, ‘Democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people,’ then very clearly the USA cannot by any stretch of the imagination be described as a democracy. Kwame Nkrumah’s definition of democracy as a ‘competition between oligarchies,’ is more appropriate. To begin with, the USA operates an incomprehensible electoral system whereby the winner of the popular vote does not necessary win the elections, ah! The recent examples are 2004 elections whereby Al Gore won the popular votes but complex electoral shenanigans ensure that the scion of the Bush dynasty becomes the president, to the utter regret of all. Again, although Senator Hilary Clinton recently won the popular vote in the Texas primary, Senator Obama ended up garnering the majority of the delegate. Go and figure that out.

There are certainly powerful forces in the USA that are the real movers and shapers of US policies. Among the prominent are the Bilderberg, The Bohemian Grove, The Round Table, the Skull and Bones, the Council of Foreign Relations. The most important captains of industries, bureaucracy, military and unions belong to these groups which meet regularly and determine the strategic thrust of the country. It has been noted no one has been elected to the US presidency without belonging to one or more of these groups. Some of them belong to one or more of these secret societies.

These groups are the think tanks where American foreign and domestic policies are crafted. The goal of these groups, however disparate they might look, is to maintain the American Empire and to ensure the maintenance of America’s global power and hegemony.

It was an American President who said that the business of government is business and he wasn’t even been cynical. He was just telling the plain truth as it were. It was Ralph Nader who lamented that the American political machinery has been hijacked by corporate interests. He coined the term ‘Corpocracy.’ It was the influence that corporate America wields on the American political system that led President Roosevelt to denounce what he termed: “The Military-Industrial-Complex.”

The tentacles of American corporations traverse the globe and their central goal is to ensure that the USA remains numero uno in the world. The primary business of any US government is to ensure that US corporations’ interests are well served by lending diplomatic and military muscles whenever and wherever it is required. We have to quote General Smedley Butler’s immortal words here: “It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.”

General Butler apparently didn’t mention Africa because our motherland was been raped by the British then.

The primary question is: to what do we attribute our continual infatuation with the West and its institutions? Why are we still being fascinated by a people and a system that has continually short-changed us? Is it colonial mentality or a sense of inferiority complex? Or shall we say that slavery and colonialism have combined to cripple our senses to cause a collective amnesia?

Even the most cursory glance at history tells us that since the West was able to navigate out its waters and came to our shore; its relationship with us has been one of ruthless exploitation. The West at the beginning used to trade with us, but it came back to take advantage of our internal strives to enslave millions of our folks. When slavery became too odious, Western leaders sat in Berlin in 1884 to sunder our motherland and carved it up among themselves. We did not take possession of the last bastion of our land until apartheid was overthrown in 1994. We have taken physical control of our land, but we still remain firmly tied to the Western economic apron string. The West simply move the goal-post; changing colonialism to neo-colonialism which, in turn, has metamorphosed into globalization (or would anyone tell me what Africa is contributing to the so-called ‘Globalization?’)

If we are capable of reading and doing a bit of research and analysis, it should be clear to us that the West has lost it. And given the deep financial and economic crises gripping the West, there is no reason whatever for us to entertain the illusions that our salvation is coming from the Western Man. The American national, corporate and personal debt is gargantuan. Its housing and financial sectors are in huge disarray. It is a country that’s surreptitiously defaulting on its debt by letting its currency sink. To all intent and purposes it’s a nation bristling with military toys and very little else. Over a million of its citizens are in jail, and all it has done is to sap its energies on wars that only benefit the munitions industries. A large number of Americans are living very rough yet their leaders continue to blow $12 billion every month on wars!

The job of whoever wins the US presidency is to bring some sort of sanity into the American system which seems to have lost its guidance system. The next US president, whoever it turns out to be, will be too preoccupied with remedying the huge mess Mr. Bush is leaving behind, to have little or no time for Africa – except to ensure that the resources Western corporations are raping from Africa keep flowing smoothly, that is.

No, it is not going to be hallelujah time for us in Africa IF Senator barrack Obama wins the 2007 Presidential elections. And it shouldn’t be. For the umpteenth time, I repeat here that Africa’s salvation should and will come from Africans. No nation has been developed by foreigners and Africa is not going to be the exception. We should remove the blinders from our eyes and start the journey of learning how to stand on our own feet.


About the Author

Femi Akomolafe is a passionate Pan-Africanist. A columnist for the Accra-based Daily Dispatch newspaper and Correspondent for the New African magazine. Femi lives in both Europe and Africa, and writes regularly on Africa-related issues for various newspapers and magazines.

Femi was the producer of the FOCUS ON AFRICANS TV Interview programme for the MultiTV Station.

He is also the CEO of Alaye Dot Biz Limited Dot Biz, a Kasoa-based Multimedia organisation that specialises in Audio and Video Production. He loves to shoot and edit video documentaries.

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