Wednesday, January 21, 2009

That Small Village...

Obama's inauguration speech sent shivers down my spine.

It was powerful, poised and perfectly executed. Yet it didn't contain much of the cushy sweetness I had expected; the grandeur that inaugural speeches have contained in the past. It was about what is real in the world today and more so in America. He inspired. He spoke with his heart and his mind...and maybe a touch of soul. He didn't seem to care that he what he was saying might not be popular or pleasant.

The most amazing thing is it seemed to be written, not only for the American people, but for the rest of the world.

As a Kenyan, I have seen and heard my country men talk of President Obama as though he was ours; as though Kenya was the 51st state of America. I have heard a few others measure their words with hope and understand that in the end he must serve the interests of his country before he serves ours. I have heard some dismiss him as 'Yet another American' distant and different.

But Kenya is a republic and we are in dire need of real leadership. With the failure of our president and his government; the people, desperate for someone to believe in, have picked the son of a Luo man and an American woman. The 'most powerful man in the world' is our role model, our hero, our leader; more because we cannot look at each other and find the same sense of pride. We have been betrayed by our leaders, our family and friends and ourselves. But the achievement of President Obama has given many hope.

It is not a false hope. To hear him say "Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work..." Might be a call for his people, but it is a call to us all; perhaps Kenyans more than most.

To hear him declare, "The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government." Is probably a dig at a country mired in so much corruption we would not be able to raise our heads in public if we could master the shame.

We are a country with bad habits. Habits that need to be broken. There are those waiting on a hand out from America. They are waiting for this son of Kogelo to make a difference where they themselves are unable or unwilling to make a change. They are hoping for a miracle because it is the only way they see a future. They claim Obama, forgetting that their claim to fame is an absentee father. They claim him, forgetting that it is our willingness to bury our head in the sand and let the leaders we do have rob us blind.

President Obama called to his countrymen - to the world - to be the best they can be. I am going to do my best to be just that. We have been challenged and it is up to every person to take up that challenge. If we do, then perhaps the hope that President Obama can change the world will not be an empty one. But it will only be because we each did our part.

Is it strange that the inaugural speech felt like it was directed at me? I think not.

There goes that shiver again.

No comments:

Post a Comment