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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

44

A billboard in Kisumu, Kenya - as if
Obama has been running for president there!
Wow.

I am exhausted.

I am exhausted from caring so much about this year’s presidential election.

My computer is exhausted from all the late nights we spent together – only looking at the websites that told us Obama was ahead and ignoring the negative naysayers – who may have had their points – but we (my computer and I) decided long ago to only live in positive lala land.

My Gmail account is exhausted (and full) from the never-ending e-mails from the persistent folks at MoveOn.org, Joe Biden, David Plouffe, Michelle Obama, and Barrack Obama himself (judging from the e-mails we are already on a first name basis…. Dear Hally. Let’s make history together…) for ever more and more money.

In a direct corollary to this, my bank account is exhausted from all the donations we’ve made – most of them small, one of them large. (I wanted to be the person to put the Obama campaign over the top financially. Me. And let me tell you – I was a sucker for those financial appeals.)

My colleagues are surely exhausted from listening to me talk incessantly about the US presidential election every single day at work. (My new staff and I have been sharing a conference room while we are waiting for our office to be renovated.) Every lunch hour has been spent explaining the Electoral College or some other such American institution, ad nauseam, for the past several months.

My household staff are exhausted from washing all of the various Obama paraphernalia I’ve picked up over the past several months – T-shirts for the kids and I, stickers on the car, and even an Obama kanga (piece of cloth women wrap around their waists as skirts) that I proudly wore in all my free time last week – Obama’s face proudly plastered on my considerable ass.

I’m exhausted from the fear-mongering and divisiveness I’ve witnessed – at McCain rallies, from Sarah Palin trying to put the terrorist label on Obama, as BBC crossed America on their bus collecting the opinions of “real” (small minded) Americans, and most horrifyingly from the race-baiting and hateful viral e-mails I’ve been forwarded by friends who have relatives back in Red states who actually believed their content (e.g. that African-Americans will riot no matter what the results because that is just what they do, or that NY liberals are trying to destroy the very moral fabric upon which our country is built (although I admit to feeling the same way about them)).

My friends and I here in TZ are exhausted from going over and over the different paths to victory in the Electoral College; and from wishing we were back in the US for just this one day so we could celebrate with loved ones and feel closer to what we all felt was the inevitable history that would be made today – even though we rarely allowed ourselves to believe it fully – just in case we jinxed it.

Tanzanians are exhausted from caring so much about an election so far away but in a land that has so much influence over their present and future. The past few weeks have been punctuated by parties and events attended by a mix of Tanzanians, Americans and people from other nationalities – electrified by the hope of a new, more reflective, more attached to the rest of the world America (which to me is a clear reminder of the pedestal upon which many people here have put America). And of course, the idea of a black African American (no hyphen because indeed he is African by only one generation) is even more mind-shattering here then it is in the US. The big joke in Kenya at the moment is that only in America can a Luo become President. (Because the Luo – the tribe that Obama’s father comes from – is politically marginalized in Kenya – and the idea of a Luo President is unfathomable for many people. Nevertheless, Kenya has declared tomorrow a national holiday.)

I’m exhausted because I only pulled myself off my computer at 11:30 PM last night and then woke up and planted myself in front of the TV at 3:30 AM this morning. Just as I started watching the election results the skies opened up with torrential rain and thunder and lightening (which is rather unusual here) – a cleansing, if you will, of the political environment. The satellite was in and out – and I missed whole blocks (sometimes 30 minutes) of CNN and Al Jazzera coverage because the weather was so bad the satellite couldn’t get a connection. At some point, rain started pouring through the ceiling in my living room – right next to my TV (I just moved into my new house, which is a brand new house, so this was the first major weather it has had to endure) so I got a bucket and kept on watching until about 6 AM when I went over to my friends’, Jane and Gunnar, to watch the end with them and other friends.

And then, around 7 AM this morning, East African Time, Barack Hussein Obama was declared the President-Elect of the United States.

Today, I’m exhausted, but ecstatic.

Unlike John McCain, I haven’t always had faith in America and my fellow Americans. I think we’ve made plenty of big mistakes – including most of what has happened these past 8 years.

And I’m sure that in a few months I’ll be complaining about Obama’s stance on gay marriage, or the war in Afghanistan. But I’m going to try give him the prerequisite 100 day honeymoon period.

Nevertheless, today I am inspired by the new American electorate – younger, more liberal on social and economic issues, and a place where millions and millions of White, Hispanic, Native American African Americans and Asian Americans voted for a Black man to lead our country.

Today I have faith – and lots of it. I feel so proud.

And I am proud of number 44 – Barrack Obama. He has the hopes of the whole world on his shoulders and I wish him luck.