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"Obama has shown us all that you can come from a humble background and give

the entire world hope. He makes you proud [to be] black," the businessman said.



Books by Barack Obama

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance  / The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream

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Obama Victory Creates African Excitement
Analysis by The Nation (Nairobi)


Barack Obama's nomination as the presidential candidate of a major political party in the US has caused a great deal of excitement in Africa. Nation correspondents Argaw Ashine in Ethiopia, Angelo Izama in Uganda, Chistopher Kidanka in Tanzania, and Tony Eluemunor sample the reactions in a few countries. Africans clearly seem ecstatic and the American with Kenyan roots has a huge fan club.

Until he started making news as a possible contender for the US presidency, Barack Obama, who this week won the Democratic ticket in the White House race, was almost unknown in Ethiopia. Now, he has a huge fan club in the country, with one of his greatest fans being Ms Birtukan Mideksa, former deputy chair of Ethiopia's opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) party.

Mideksa, who was jailed by the government of Meles Zenawi for two years for "treason and inciting genocide" said that George W. Bush's administration backed the Zenawi government despite its "betrayal of Ethiopia's democratisation effort in 2005". Mideksa is inspired by Obama's promise of change and hopes that, if Obama becomes president, the US will be more willing to nudge Mr Zenawi in a more liberal political direction.

"Senator Obama is an agent of change. I am sure he would restore basic civil rights, which many are being denied in the name of war on terror all over the world," she said. "I am highly impressed by his determination, courage and wisdom. He is my role model and I have fallen in love with his philosophy of change."  She said she hoped African leaders would learn from Obama how to win the hearts of their people and also respect their rivals instead of fomenting hatred and confrontation.

Meanwhile, Abreham Kumela, a young NGO worker, has been nicknamed "Obama" because of his strong support for the Illinois senator. "He is not a politician; he advocates tolerance. He teaches us all how to effect change," Kumela said, explaining his admiration for Obama. He pointed out that, although Ethiopians at home will not vote in the American elections, he is campaigning among the thousands of Ethiopians in the US, who are also raising funds for Obama, to vote for Obama.

"Obama is bigger than just an politician with African roots; he is a symbol of tolerance and multiculturalism," Kumela said. Equally hopeful, but on for different reasons, was Dr Costentinos Berhe, former UN adviser to Nigeria. He believes that, if elected president, Obama might just solve the complex situation in the Horn of Africa. "The war on terror should not just be a military project," said Berhe. "It should also address the cultural, social and political changes in this part of the world. "I hope that, because of his African heritage, Senator Obama realises that this change is necessary."

Human rights

When Obama spent a day in Ethiopia during his African tour in 2006, many Ethiopians realised that he did not support the actions of the current Ethiopian regime. His support for the Bill accusing Ethiopia of having a poor human rights record and proposing serious sanctions, including aid cuts, helped strengthen that view. Indeed, Dr Rewodros Kiros, an Ethiopian lecturer at Harvard University, US, argues that Obama's victory might be disastrous for régimes like Ethiopia's, which do not respect human rights. Evne in Uganda, where the British Premier football league is a must-watch for many, Obama is as recognisable as the premiership superstars.

"I support Obama for ethnic reasons," said a university lecturer. He is a black man doing something extraordinary. In the capital, Kampala, Obama merchandise is highly visible, from locally made T-shirts bearing the senator's picture and the words "Change you can believe in", to bumper stickers. Masaka town, 130 kilometres Kampala, has even named a road after the US Presidential candidate. "Obama Boulevard", though not a boulevard in the ordinary sense of the word, was the brainchild of a local businessman, Frank Gashumba, who together with his neighbours, decided to bestow the honour on the Illinois senator. "Obama has shown us all that you can come from a humble background and give the entire world hope. He makes you proud [to be] black," the businessman said.

Meteoric rise

Younger educated Ugandans have formed an Obama fan club. And their name, Ugandans for Obama, gives a notable ring to the senator's meteoric rise in American politics. The founder, Bernard Sabiti, said he was inspired to form the group when he found people in a bar asking, "How is a Kenyan going to rule America?" The group mainly comprises university students with access to the Internet, where they campaign for him.

Another group, the Obama Support Group, says it admires Obama because of his oratorical skills and inspiration. Their aim is to lobby Ugandan-Americans as well as US citizens in Uganda to vote for Obama. Excitement about Obama's candidature is also evident in neighbouring Tanzania, where many people view him as one of their own. After all, his father was a Luo from Kenya, but Luos are also found in Tanzania, some argue. The Obama-mania cuts across the different sectors of society, with many city commuter taxis now having the name "Obama" emblazoned on them.

As news of Obama's victory in the Democratic party nomination spread in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam, a local fan, Ave-Maria given remarked: "At least America can have a president who is one of our own!" Peter Tumaini-Mungu, a lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, gave a somewhat philosophical explanation for his support for Obama.

"Being a person of African origin might not be that important," he said. "Obama's policies towards Africa are ambitious, and he has a keen interest in the continent. That is something a person of any origin can have." The lecturer, who has attended several Obama campaign in the US, says Obama is a passionate and visionary whom the world needs to make it a better place. "Obama articulates his policies in favour of the poor and the marginalised, something both Africa and Tanzania need," he said.

And in West Africa, The Lagos State House of Assembly in Nigeria in April this year launched a website to popularise the Illinois senator and campaign for his White House bid.

During the launch, Lagos was turned into an "Obama state", with taxis draped with banners bearing the senator's pictures. Their Vote Obama Initiative website explains their stand thus: "Though without a voting right in the ongoing party primaries of the Democrats in the USA, like everybody around the world, we are very much involved because of the global implications the outcome of the elections would have on the world.

"We are particularly thrilled by Obama's feat because, for the very first time in the history of the US, he has successfully broken the colour bar. We are even more thrilled that white voters can rally forcefully behind this charismatic black man in his quest to become the first black president in the most powerful nation on earth. Like Martin Luther King Jr said, today he is no longer being judged by the colour of his skin, but by the content of his character, which has propelled him from near obscurity to international limelight.

In Barack Obama, the agitations of early black nationalists such as Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey and so many others found concrete expressions as he attains leverage in the political calculation of the US that would no longer ignore Afro-Americans and their electoral strength. To us, this is a feat worthy of celebration as the dawn of a new era."

Obama spell

So potent is the Obama spell that a group of militant youths in Nigeria's Niger Delta were taken in by the tricks of a creative-minded security agent who, left with no answer to the fire power of the militiamen, decided to send them a message they could not ignore. He simply sent an e-mail purportedly from Obama, in which he asked that the militants stop the war in the area.

Surprisingly, the militants agreed and announced to the world that Obama had been requested to observe a ceasefire by a person they could not defy! World oil prices were just starting to fall when the real Obama denied that he was the one who asked for a ceasefire. The young men of Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta returned to their trenches immediately.

Obama also enjoys huge support in Ghana, where Godwin Yaw Agboka, a columnist, tried to explain his appeal thus: "Obama appears to have a magic wand that appeals to the youth, independents, and liberals. For the first time, in many decades, the expectations among voters, are reaching boiling point - call it a crescendo. Voters seem to want things to change in Washington. Obama represents the change they want. Forget about the fact that he is black. Obama has transcended race. He talks about hope, and believes that 'there is nothing false about hope'. He knows how to say the right things at the right time".

African initiative

With Obama now the Democratic Party's presidential candidate, one can expect the African Initiative for Obama group to swing into action - selling posters, caps, and other merchandise, all to support him. The group has affiliates across West Africa, and plans to spread throughout the continent. On Tuesday, its chairman and continental coordinator, Elvis Agukwe, told Daily Nation in Abuja that in about a week, they will approach church leaders and Imams to ask their congregations to begin special prayers for God to guide Americans in their choice of president.

Beyond the buzz, however, Obama has clearly touched something profound among many Africans. As Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, a Liberian poet, puts it, "It is a good thing that I am alive to see all of this, and it is a good thing that you are reading this, and you too, are alive to record this for your children".

Source:  NationMedia

posted 9 June 2008 

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
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#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788

By Pauline Maier

A notable historian of the early republic, Maier devoted a decade to studying the immense documentation of the ratification of the Constitution. Scholars might approach her book’s footnotes first, but history fans who delve into her narrative will meet delegates to the state conventions whom most history books, absorbed with the Founders, have relegated to obscurity. Yet, prominent in their local counties and towns, they influenced a convention’s decision to accept or reject the Constitution. Their biographies and democratic credentials emerge in Maier’s accounts of their elections to a convention, the political attitudes they carried to the conclave, and their declamations from the floor. The latter expressed opponents’ objections to provisions of the Constitution, some of which seem anachronistic (election regulation raised hackles) and some of which are thoroughly contemporary (the power to tax individuals directly). Ripostes from proponents, the Federalists, animate the great detail Maier provides, as does her recounting how one state convention’s verdict affected another’s. Displaying the grudging grassroots blessing the Constitution originally received, Maier eruditely yet accessibly revives a neglected but critical passage in American history.—Booklist

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 7 April 2012




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