By Tafi Mhaka
When then-Senator Barrack Obama won the presidential election in the USA, ahead of Republican Party nominee John McCain, on Tuesday, November 3 in 2008 – Africa as a whole celebrated the election of a man many people on the continent regard as a son of the African soil.
Ordinary Africans believed Obama could bring change to Africa, as they felt he was a man who could relate to the struggles of African people. His Kenyan lineage captured the imagination of Africa more than the legacy of Martin Luther King Jnr. ever will.
Obama seemingly plugged an emotional void in the soul of Africa, which had lingered unperturbed for an excruciatingly long period of time. And he laid bare for all to see, the dearth of young African personalities in positions of leadership in post-colonial political and economic affairs.
Obama oozes coolness and sophistication in buckets. He inspires dreams of an expansive nature much more than esteemed liberators like Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana did in 1957. What does this say about the state of Africa today?
The leaders of Africa have sorely struggled to secure socio-economic security for all for more than five decades. So millennials have begun to see hope in leaders like Obama. The fascination and respect Obama inspires in Africa, is a much-sought after rarity in African politics only the late Nelson Mandela held in times gone by.
Mrs Obama is also highly popular in Africa. She fronted the #bringbackourgirls campaign calling for the release of 276 Chibok girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria. She is intelligent and articulate and appears to have formidable strength of character.
But is Africa truly in short supply of phenomenal female leaders like Mrs Obama? Or do African men shamefully smother the voices and dreams of African women in the hope of perpetuating patriarchal dominance?
Where are the young African pioneers of today, who can develop technology-driven enterprises in Africa, and create millions of decent jobs for the Africans emigrating to Europe in shabby fishing boats?
We love to applaud the achievements of Mark Zuckerberg – and rightfully so, but is Africa promoting or stifling innovation for the sake of skewed policy considerations?
African leaders rush to congratulate leaders such as Theresa May and Donald Trump when they win elections in their respective countries, but largely fail to support democracy, or uphold the rule of law, or hold free and fair or peaceful elections in Kenya, Togo, Gabon, Gambia and Ivory Coast.
African leaders are quick to welcome political change overseas, but loathe to see dynamic dispensations cropping up in Angola, Uganda, Egypt and Ethiopia.
Africans love to stand up for the rights of African-Americans on Twitter and Facebook, but ignore injustices suffered by fellow Africans in conflict zones like Darfur and South Sudan.
Africans have been all so eager to embrace the deeply personal African-American dream of Barrack Hussein Obama II; they have not discussed how the dream of a free and prosperous Africa remains solidly stuck in the fading hopes of 1957.
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