Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can.

I spent the night awake. Literally.

There was no electricity, for the first part of the night. A scheduled blackout, I think- but that did not stop me.

I have been ill over the last few days, down with a virus and a fever for a couple, unable to sleep well, causing my lover untold grief because I will not take drugs as I should, and he has to cajole and beg and tease me till I do take them. But that did not stop me.

Neither did the thought of missing him in bed, as I was glued to the television, and searched the internet.

The day of the results of the elections in the United States.

The fever burnt itself out, and my lover retired to bed alone. He spent the night alone, (I know, he will take his revenge, but I am too fired up to sleep now). I was glued to the internet sites showing the results of the election. Electricity came back on, and I put on the television, and then it went off. And I continued looking for the news on the internet, watching the results, my heart in my mouth, too fired up to think of sleeping.

The battery on my laptop gave out, and I changed to another. That one also gave out too, and, reluctantly, I packed off and went to bed. I was there less than ten minutes, and, when my lover went to the bathroom, I realized I was seeing light from outside. Electricity was back.

He found me trekking back to the sitting room.

The situation was comic. I was supposed to be sick. I had refused to go to bed, and, when I went, I decided to leave almost immediately- to watch the television.

He stood in the doorway, barring me. I told him I was having nothing of that. It was simple. I could not sleep. I wanted to know what was happening in the election in the US. And, with electricity back and the computer charging, there was no way I could stay in bed.

I watched the results.

Learnt where a few of the States of the US are. Colorado. Pennsylvania. Virginia. A lesson in the civics and politics of the United States.

I was on the net when Pennsylvania was called for Obama. Electricity was off again a short time later, and when it came back on, and the television was back to CNN, it was just in time.

Ohio was called for Obama, and suddenly, the pundits (had never heard of that before) were calling the race over. President elect Obama.

I watched it all. When McCain conceded. And the tears of Jesse Jackson, and the joy of the black people of America. And then I listened to the soaring rhetoric of the American President Elect.

Barack Hussein Obama.

To me, in Uganda, saying his name in full is not a put down. It is a reminder, and an honour. That, after all, is his name. And a full name is an honour, when repeated and said at such an occasion.

When I look in the mirror, all my prejudices spill over. To me, he is the son of a Luo man, a Kenyan, an African. He is a politician, and in a continent which has seen the likes of Mugabe, Museveni, Moi, Amin, Mobutu, that is like saying he is shit- human dung. Makers of big promises, betrayers of their people, thieves of hope- those are my prejudices of the humans we call politicians in Africa. Agents of intolerance.

Yet, he is the one politician who seems to tear prejudices apart.

I listened to his speech. It was pretty. Later, in bed, failing to sleep, I tuned on BBC fm, and listened to excerpts of the speech again.

Soaring rhetoric indeed. A gifted speaker, a man whose voice holds the crowd, embraces it, weaves the magic of the moment in the words he says. But beyond the sound are the words, the meaning. Beyond the charisma lies a substance which my cynical mind dares to embrace.

Yes we can.

His is an inspirational story, this son of Africa. An inspiring story, from a very, very unlikely continent. I do not read the future. He may not be a good president. The challenges facing him are daunting, to say the least. I appreciate that, if nothing else. I am too cynical of humanity and our failings to fail to appreciate that.

His parentage, his humble beginnings, his meteoric rise.

It could not have happened in Africa. That is a simple fact. The brilliant who dare to overachieve outside the scope of what is possible, what we define as possible, especially in politics, come to a quick and violent end. Those who are of mixed racial parentage are looked down on in most of Africa. I know. I am an African.

Possibly only in America could it have happened.

He inspires me, yet I would not like to be an American. It is not home. Africa is home. I just want to be what I am, an African.

He gives me the sense, the feel, that it may be hard, but it is possible, to be African, and an achiever. To be gay and Ugandan. To be poor, but resourceful. He inspires me.

I look at the daunting problems facing me and mine, and I cannot help but feel that being what I am, coming to a realization of the fullness of my promise, walking and stumbling and falling, and getting up to walk again- that all that is possible.

He talked of the 106 year old black woman, born generations ago, who voted him as president. That woman was born in a world where she could not vote both because she was black, and because she was a woman. But, in this election, she had had the chance to vote for a black person, and a woman.

Yes we can. Change, yes we can.

We can believe in ourselves. I can believe in me. I can rise beyond the constrains of my world, the puny jealousies and narrow minded of the many who believe me less than I am, and say, yes I can. I can be so much more than what I am, because it is possible.

An inspiring leader. Yes, we can.

We can rise beyond the narrow bands of the cynicism that constrain our expectations.

In the US elections, I believe the right to marry was taken away from gay Californians. That was sad, but, I cannot help feeling that, Yes, we can. To my gay brothers and sisters in California, we can still fight back for the right to be recognized on the table with our fellow humans. Yes we can.

Indeed, to my American friends, yours is a great and inspiring country. Of course you are human. Your failings are very, very human. But, as Barack Hussein Obama put it, Yes you can Change, and that may be the greatest and best of human qualities. Thanks for showing us the way.

Yes we can.



Ugandan girl said...

well you went through alot but i guess it was worth it...A friend of mine who might also be your friend woke me up at 4am just to let me know that Barack Obama had won. I never went back to bed after. I hope that this is the beinging of great things for everyone...

Sorry to hear about the sickness...hope you get well soon..

Anonymous said...

Great day innit??? Never thought it would happen. I was one of the cynical ones.

Princess said...

Ah, Obama!
Had to read your reaction! :-)

*You ok, now?

Leonard said...

I look at the daunting problems facing me and mine, and I cannot help but feel that being what I am, coming to a realization of the fullness of my promise, walking and stumbling and falling, and getting up to walk again- that all that is possible.¨ Gay Uganda

That´s what we do. We aren´t going anywhere. We are the same family as before...we will walk again, we keep moving.

BTW, Jesse Jacksons silent teers tore me apart too.

AND, I love the fact that Obama is ¨mixed race¨...afterall, most Americans are not of one race...I have Pawnee Indian and English and Early American English flowing through my bloodline...we are not homogenious in the U.S...hopefully, we´re getting ¨over¨ ALL of *it* NOW!

Good to see you healthy and perky!

Emi's said...

You wa not alone, mob guys did stay awake for various reasons but mostly Obama. But how come you wa "not together" with him to witness history?

Guess yo much better now, Interesting read about Obama, He's indeed a great inspiration to many even the Californians who am sure are going to appeal.

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