Author: Barack Obama
Publishers: Three Rivers Press
Year: (this edition 2004)
I have been reading and still reading Obama's 'Dream from My Father' and there are several phrases and lessons we can learn from that Memoir. But believe you me, I am not going to review that book for at least three basic reasons:
- It is not a novel, it is a memoir (an account of the author's personal experiences) almost like an autobiography, though from where he's come from and when the book was written this is no complete autobiography: the man is now the president of America. There would definitely be one when he hits the seventieth mark (that is, if he is still alive);
- Obama is not an African (oops! that hurts) he is an African American. Okay he is an African or a Kenyan bu I am not reviewing that book; and
- I am still reading it (not a strong point, I know; but that's why it is the last point).
However, there is something in that memoir I wish to share with you presently, taking into account what I read yesterday. Yesterday, I read from a fellow blogger novisi about the unfortunate plight of the GBC boss Mr. Ampem-Darko. He has been ordered by parliament to render an apology for either insulting a parliamentarian or parliament (as an institution) or parliamentarians. I couldn't get it even though it was the parliamentarian involved (one who calls himself K.T. Hammond) who had started the insult. What a pity!
This morning as I was coming to work I had the opportunity of being driven in a commercial trotro by a 'professional' driver. Not that I drive myself or even own a car, I don't! So, whilst been chauffeured to work (not exactly to the workplace, because I have to get down and board another car, alight at a certain junction and walk the remaining miles) I had the chance to gobble down some few lines from Obama's first book, 'Dreams of my Father' and there it was: Obama's 'insult' to the honourable men of Ghana. Those same individuals who are eager demanding to be respected but who are refusing to do honourable things. It was there in black and brown (nope!, what is the colour of those recycled paper?). But it was just there.
Did you see those parliamentarians including ex-presidents snapping Obama during his visits? Did you read about it? Or perhaps heard the debate (or argument) on radio? Well, I saw it on T.V. at least since I am not among the well-known or the highly in the country. If you should arrange it in that order I would be the first from the bottom or perhaps the penultimate famous man. The last time I was recognised as a 'big man' was during the 2004 congregation for the 2003 graduands of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately (unfortunate because I added unto the pool of unemployed graduates (UG) already gallivanting and cavorting along and around the major cities searching for work) I had inherited my mother's high IQ and so I completed with a first class, top my class (I am not boasting; only making a point, so don't begin to have funny ideas about me) and you know all the invited guests had to stand up, remove their hats, and shake the hands of the first class students. And can you imagine who was there? You are right! John 'the gentle giant' 'sexy-eyes' Agyekum Kufour. Yes, the man stood up, shook my hands and I told him 'I am glad to meet you', though I wasn't glad...my mind was on the unemployment issue. I stayed home for two years without job. Imagine the types of jobs one can get in Suhum (where I was staying). So that was the last time I was treated as a 'big man' and man it was so sweet. Sweeter than honey, I tell you. As I was saying I wasn't there else I might also have taken Obama's picture and today I would have cursed my stars for being there. Note I am not saying that all those who took picture of Obama have in one way or the other been insulted. This goes only for the leaders. Get me and don't be worried.
Coming back to the point (I have digress too much), in that section of the memoir, Obama was talking about how he came to Chicago wanting to be a Community Organiser and working hard to form groups of local folks for a racially divided South-Side Chicago. During the success periods, they had invited the first black Mayor of Chicago, Harold, to innaugurate a job centre for the Roseland community. The leaders of the organisation who had been tasked with the responsibility of convincing him to attend their next rally were all eager taking pictures of the man and with the man. Thus, they (the leaders) forgot to invite him. Here Obama was extremely frustrated and vent his anger on the leaders of the organisation. To quote those paragraphs:
"Did he agree to come to our rally?", I repeated.
The three of them looked at me impatiently. "What rally?"
I threw up my hand and started stomping down the street. As I reached my car, I heard Will coming up from behind.
"Where you off to in such a hurry?" he said.
"I don't know. Somewhere." I tried to light a cigarette, but the wind kept blowing out the match. I cursed, tossing the matches to the ground, and turned to Will. "You wanna know something, Will?"
"We're trifling. That's what we are. Trifling. Here we are, with a chance to show the mayor that we're real players in the city, a group he needs to take seriously. So what do we do? We act like a bunch of starstruck children, that's what. Standing around, cheesing and grinning, worrying about whether we got a picture take with him--..." (Dreams from My Father, Page 225/226)
So when Obama came, instead of our leaders showing him that we are the real players in Africa, one that he has to take seriously and work with what did we do? Answer: We acted like a bunch of starstruck children, standing around, cheesing and grinning, worrying about whether we got a picture with him or of him. Our problems defined. Did Obama take us serious? His speech had already been prepared so whatever he said had nothing to do with what he saw and whether he took us serious or not. In line of the picture-taking nerds and androids were pa*l***men*arians (before I am summoned to answer) and many exses (ex-this, ex-that). Those required to make a bold statement as Obama had required of mere community leaders not country leaders. So why should we be shocked beyond our imagination if after a parliamentarian traded insult with a media mogul, parliament asks the latter to render an apology to the former on all national radio stations, on T.V. at his cost? We shouldn't, for Obama has defined them for us.