Africa on Obama: "He's black, not African"

Obama's roots won't go forgotten. And especially not in Africa. Our Observers all over the continent share their excitement and hope, but also their doubt of any change for Africa if the black candidate is elected. Read more...


Barack and Sarah Hussein Obama, his grandmother. Photo posted on Flickr.

Obama's roots won't go forgotten. And especially not in Africa. Our Observers all over the continent share their excitement and hope, but also their doubt that there will be any change for Africa if the black candidate is elected.

Never before has an African-American candidate come so close to presidency in the US. According to the latest polls, published by Reuters/Zogby on Monday, Obama is ahead of his competitor in five of the eight crucial swing states, including Ohio - the one that tipped the election for George Bush in 2004.

Just a week before the big day, we asked our Observers in Africa what Obama's success means for them.

"He's black, not African"


Nino is a Cameroonian living in Paris. He writes the blog "Nino".

Those who think Obama's skin colour will make any difference to his policies are grossly mistaken. He's no more African than his father and his grandmother were. He's black, not African; the difference is considerable. His election would certainly affect millions of black Americans, but black Africans, they need to manage by themselves, not wait for him like a messiah that will come to carry the weight of their incapacities."  

"I'm not making any illusions about what's coming next for Africa"


Honorat Hermann C is an advertiser at Océan Ogilvy in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. His blog.

"Despite his origins and the colour of his skin, Obama is the same as any other Democratic candidate: they glare everyone out with their total ignorance of the world outside the US. I'm not making any illusions about what's coming next for Africa. To get out of the doldrums, we only have ourselves to count on. What Obama's done is incredible, and he should indeed be celebrated, but he has nothing to do with us. He's shown that there are no bounds for a man who believes in himself, and that's something we're in great need of in this continent."



Photo by Skyler Vander Molen.

Skyler Vander Molen is an American travelling in Africa.

"The man you see sitting to the left of the tree was the one responsible for the display and had three to four paintings of Obama (like the one you see in the photo) he was selling. Mostly he'd just hang out there during the day and sell a painting or two. What was so interesting was this wasn't an isolated event. I spent four months in Africa this summer (two in Rwanda) and then the following two travelling from Kenya all the way down to South Africa. In every country, Africans were constantly asking about Obama, who I was voting for, etc. He's really got a HUGE presence in Africa."

"There aren't only supporters here; fanatics too"


MamadouKone, aka 'Magnaled', is a student from Abidjan.

An Obama T-shirt in the Plateau district of Abidjan.

"Obamamania is in full swing in Côte d'Ivoire. We see him as a hero, our African representative in the White House. Someone's even created a support committee for him, called the "Africa for Obama" committee, and he holds press conferences about the candidate. The members are liberal thinkers of all nationalities, origins and faiths. They're bent on letting the entire continent know about the Illinois senator."



Photo: Creative Commons on Flickr.

An Obama bracelet sold in Accra.

"He's the one"


Marsel Maffe, aka 'Tsira', works in a cybercafé in Libreville.

"Obamamania has arrived in Gabon. Young people have set up fan clubs for "the black candidate in the White House". You hear people saying things like "the racist whites in the US and elsewhere will finally realise that black people are not idiots". The colour of his skin is almost always the centre of debate here in Libreville. He's "the one". The biggest fans say he's going to "change the face of the world". Just Barack Obama's name, which comes from Africa, makes the continent proud. For the young elites here, he gives them hope of getting away from the corrupt marshlands of political life in Africa. An Obama T-shirt sells for 5,000 FCFA [€8] here, which not everybody can afford. In a few weeks - when he supposedly wins - there'll probably be umbrellas, gadgets, and loads of other paraphernalia on the market."



Photo taken by "Oyibo" and posted on Flickr.

This sign greets visitors just outside Abuja airport. Like elsewhere in Africa, Obama is very popular here. Just recently, a few prominent citizens (including the head of the Nigeria Stock Exchange) were arraigned for organising a bogus fundraiser for the Obama campaign."

"Not as black as we'd like"


Idrissa Martialis an IT management technician from Bourgou. His blog.

He's a charismatic personality with an impressive career. I love watching him on TV. He is BLACK. Not as black as we'd like (like David Palmer from the American series 24), especially when you read his biography, but anyway... The remodelling of American politics? Yes! But that's mainly because he's a Democrat. What will he do for Africa? Nothing! Unless all the US lobbyists wake up black one day. And so..."



Photo taken by "Sonomapinot" and posted on Flickr.

This was posted in the small crafts market just outside Victoria Falls. I saw several Obama clippings and buttons in Africa."

"You're really playing Africans for fools in playing the race card"


Malika Ahfiri (his pseudonym) is a journalist from Casablanca. Comment originally posted here.

Most of the leaders in Africa are black, and most of them are not democrat. In the US too, former American Secretary of State Colin Powell, who's mixed-race, lied to the Security Council in justifying the Iraq war, and Condoleezza Rice - who's black - has stayed faithful to the White House neocons until this day. You're really playing Africans for fools in playing the race card. This election can effectually represent a change for Americans, in sight of their recent history, and Barack Obama can help their not-such-a-melting pot to evolve. But that doesn't concern Africans."



Photo by "Meaduva" on Flickr.