Obama’s outlook remains American

OPINION – As Africans, it is safer to focus our celebration on the rich symbolism of the elevation of an African-American to the leadership of the superpower.

The event is the most convincing indication of the growing irrelevance of race in determining membership of the ruling classes in America. It is a tangible message that American apartheid is truly coming to an end.

We have come a long way from slavery and colonialism to this historic election.

Before colonialism, Europeans practised feudalism, with the higher classes exploiting the majority for economic gain. The white lower classes, who settled in the colonies, set themselves up as the higher class, by virtue of skin colour, importing feudalism to the colonies.

In feudalism, the upper class owns the lower class collectively. As one descends to slavery, a member of the upper class owns specific members of the lower classes. Thus the descent from race- based colonial feudalism (or apartheid) to slavery entails the privatisation of the ownership of the lower classes. This is the relationship between the experience of the American “nigger” and the colonial native.

As the son of a white mother, Barack Obama was born into white society and grew up in it on the island state of Hawaii. In his late teens, he began to try to integrate himself into the black American community. That is why he abandoned a highly paid upwardly mobile Manhattan job, which he got after graduating from college, and chose to work in the poor black neighbourhoods of Chicago. He was black and American, but had no black American roots.

Thus Chicago can’t be referred to as “his native Chicago”. It would be more accurate to speak of “his native Kenya” for that is where his father came from and returned to, after abandoning Obama’s mother.

Obama has been to Kenya on several occasions and has undergone rituals of his African tribe, the Luo. But his outlook remains American. The only difference between him and the usual American presidential candidate is that he has an awareness of non-American world views. — Themba Mdlalose SOURCE: The Sunday Times