Wednesday, September 17, 2008

6,000 Miles Away and Surrounded by Obamacans

When people here in Nigeria find out that I'm from the US, one of the first things they do is try to convince me to vote for Obama.  Obama is everywhere.  On the way to church, there's a large sign shouting "Obama '08."  LawPavillion, a Nigerian legal resources website lists "fundraising for Barack Obama" in its announcements section. 

And it's not just Nigeria.  Four months ago, my friends in Zambia named their youngest daughter after one of Obama's children.  Another Zambian friend proudly proclaims on his chat status message "Obamania for America."  In South Africa, in Kenya, in Ghana,  across Africa, people are forming fan clubs, praying, doing anything they can.  They are excited, and it's because of Barack Obama.

An article in the Saturday Sun written during the primaries in March described this international support:

Our votes do not count.  We are not Americans.  Even if we are Americans, we are not super delegates.  We are not super anything.  We belong to no political party.  We belong to no party caucus.  Yet we will vote for Barack Obama.  With our hearts, we will vote.  With our prayers, we will vote.  With our dreams, we will vote.  With the audacity of our hope, we will see him through the White House. Who are we?  We are the Obamacans."

- Mike Awoyinta, Saturday Sun, Vol. 5 No. 268, March 2, 2008, p. 21.  "Who Will Be on Top: Hillary or Obama?"

Nearly everyday I hear a new song on the radio mentioning Obama, from African and American artists.  Obama is inspiring people far beyond anything I've ever seen.  Here, they compare him to Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy.  At the Nigerian Bar Association Conference, speakers encouraged the crowd to tackle legal reforms saying "a black man is on the verge of becoming President of the most powerful nation on earth; we can do this!"

As Mr. Awoyinta put it, "you look at Obama and you don't see a black man.  Instead, you see... an apostle of peace."  With the current not-so-flattering world-perceptions of our country, this matters.  Maybe even more than experience, more than party affiliations and more than anything anyone can do domestically.

3 comments:

jess said...

fascinating!

Wendy said...

I realized that "Obamacans" can be taken in a few different ways. When I first read your post I thought it was a combination of 'Obama' and 'African'. After googling it I discovered that here in America the word is a combination of 'Obama' and 'Republican' and is used by republicans who are going to vote for Obama. I also realized that it is a combination of 'Obama' and 'can' as in his slogan "Yes we can".

goldenrail said...

@Wendy: yes, I realized that the same way you did, by googling it. I think I'm just going to take "Obamacan" as a word for anyone who supports Obama.
It's sort of like how people from the US think "Americans" means them, and people from the rest of the world think "Americans" means anyone from North or South America.