Shortly after CNN declared Obama winner of the 44th US Presidential election, (just before 7am Kenya time on Wednesday), President Kibaki announced Thursday a national holiday to mark the historic ascension of “one of its own” to the most powerful office on Earth.  President Kibaki remarked that Obama’s unassailable victory (364 electoral votes) is clear testimony to the confidence of the American people not only in his leadership and vision for the United States, but for the world.  While there has been contention regarding Kenya’s claim to Obama’s ancestral identity (his father was predominantly absent from his life) and even criticism launched against the Kenyan government for the hypocrisy of such a celebration (erecting electronic billboards with the candidate’s image while children go hungry and its own democratic processes leave much to be desired), I think such reactions (regardless of their relevance) miss the much more important point.

Obama’s election has created a tide of renewed hope in the US, both as a democracy and as a global leader (See Reactions Around the World).  Raised in a multi-racial, non-traditional family.  Schooled in Indonesia, Hawaii, and Harvard Law.  Rooted in community organizing.  Now President-elect.  Obama defies most accusations against the US as a greedy, racist, isolationist country.  Yet, as Marceline stated in her post, our work it not over.  In fact, congratulating our progressive selves without a continued analysis of colonial history and its lingering impacts on development, peace, and the environment will not move us any closer to our ultimate goals of peace and prosperity for all (or at least for more than the select few that currently enjoy it).

Experts like Howard Wolpe, former House Representative and chair of the House subcommittee on Africa, state that Obama (due to his upbringing?) has a “general sensitivity about the nature of the economic, social and political challenges that are facing the so-called Third World” and that his administration will certainly adopt a different approach towards economic integration, peace building, and democracy (Source: Corey, America.gov).  Many of us have rallied behind this possibility.  But, we must continue to push ourselves to work together and think outside of the box if we are to make good on any of Obama’s campaign promises.  And don’t think that simply because you don’t hold public office you are exempt or powerless in this process.  If anything, this campaign has sparked a revival in the strength of ordinary people (remember Joe the Plumber?)

Senator Barack Obama’s election is indeed a victory, for the US and the world.  Now, let it be the beginning of a true paradigm shift.

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