Obama oye – the celebrations still continue
First in Africa. Kenya seems to be still in the grip of Obama-mania, from reports I’ve heard. And why not? There is much to celebrate. I also hope that the extremely popular “Obama – the musical” will transfer from its Nairobi home to London at some point.
In Rwanda, the day after the election also saw great scenes of jubiliation. Some of those moments are captured on this video.
What is most moving and significant on the footage is the re-emergence of a positive reaction to America and what it stands for. That is the impact from day one of Obama’s victory, and it can’t be understated. I was mocked, along with many others, for believing that the symbolism of his candidacy and the rhetoric of Obama’s message of hope and change was important, as well as the actual policies he might implement. But the change in mood and perceptions that has been happened not just within a few African countries but throughout much of the world, indicates what can be achieved this way.
Here in the UK we are still feeling it too. Over two weeks on from election day, I continue to proudly wear my Obama badges and my Obama hat. And people – especially London’s black community - continue to respond enthusiastically. Every so often, I get an “O-bam-aaaaa!” cry as I walk past, or a compliment about the badges and sometimes a request for one. I could have made some useful cash by buying a whole load of “yes we did”-type merchandise from the sellers outside Grant Park and flogging it here. But that’s not my style.
On Tuesday I attended an Obama victory party hosted by one of the main Obama UK meet-up groups. I’d never been to one of their meetings or events before, so was a first-timer. Over 30 people were there: a range of ages, nationalities and backgrounds. Most were not politics nuts like me. Some people had connections with America, or were American citizens themselves; but by no means a majority. Among the people I chatted to were a guy from the Ivory Coast, a Labour party organiser from Stevenage, a woman from Missouri who had ran a local Obama campaign office there, a Bostonian performance artist with her English partner, and a retired couple who had gone out to North Carolina to do phone-canvassing and volunteer recruitment that final week of the campaign. One woman had flown back to her native California so she could vote in person and just experience election day – and the result – firsthand. There was even someone else who had been in Grant Park, Chicago for election night. She had her prayers answered in the same way I had in Denver back in August - a ticket for the main event received at the last minute thanks to someone’s generosity. As well as toasts to Obama, another part of the evening was for people to get up and tell their election stories to the group. The event took on the air of a revivalist meeting, as one-by-one people (including myself) recounted their journies and emotional highs.
Tomorrow (Friday), I meet up with Meghan for the first time since Chicago: to do a last bit of filming and no doubt to swap tales of UK responses to Obama’s victory.
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