Obama: end of an era

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

WHEN Bar­rack Obama emerged as the 44th and first black pres­i­dent of the United States in 2008, he had the whole world at his feet. He de­parted this week in sim­i­lar fash­ion. The end of the Obama years marks the end of an era in global pol­i­tics. The son of a Kenyan fa­ther, Barack Hus­sein Obama will prob­a­bly go down in his­tory as one of the US’s most suc­cess­ful pres­i­dents, but per­haps also its most colour­ful.

He leaves the US economy bet­ter than he found it and will be cred­ited for steer­ing it out of the murky wa­ters of the 2008 global eco­nomic meltdown. And that’s no mean feat.

No won­der then that when he bid Amer­i­cans – and the world – farewell this week, Obama once again had the world at his feet. In typ­i­cal Obama fash­ion, the script was the work of an or­a­tor and states­man.

And he ended his pres­i­dency where it all be­gan – in Chicago, where his cam­paign started with the words that be­came the sig­na­ture of his bid for the world’s num­ber one job: “Yes, we can!”

Obama leaves the White House in the hands of a man the world is yet to un­der­stand – con­tro­ver­sial bil­lion­aire Don­ald Trump.

It will prob­a­bly be a long time – a very long time – be­fore the US has an­other black pres­i­dent. Or a pres­i­dent of Obama’s cal­i­bre.

But that’s not to say he was in­fal­li­ble. The Obama pres­i­dency wasn’t per­fect by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion. His crit­ics will be quick to point out that Obama was a war mon­ger of a US pres­i­dent. And he prob­a­bly was.

Many in Africa may also feel that for a man who con­nected so well with Africans as the first black man in the White House, Obama was never re­ally quite the African we thought he would be. And that the US’s for­eign pol­icy on Africa re­mained largely un­changed.

But there is no doubt that Africa re­mained in his heart. We hope that now that he is out of the hot seat, Obama, to­gether with Michelle and their kids Malia and Sasha, will have more time to travel in Africa, the con­ti­nent of his fore­fa­thers, and to in­spire our peo­ple so we too can say “Yes, we can!”.

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