Wednesday, November 05, 2008

It's official...

What's official, you ask.

Barack Obama is officially the President-Elect of the United States of America.

Not only did Obama win the national electoral and popular vote earlier this morning in convincing fashion, but he more surprisingly turned the normally red state of Indiana (my home state) into a blue state for this year's presidential election. For those of you unfamiliar with Indiana's voting record, Indiana had not supported a democratic presidential candidate since Johnson in 1964 (When all but 6 states supported Johnson).

Now that I've told you what you probably already know, you might be wondering how South Africans are reacting to the news that Obama will be the next president of the U.S. Well, an overwhelming majority of people are very excited about the idea. The main reasons they're excited are as follows:
1) They are sick and tired of President Bush, and they want anyone other than him to lead the U.S..
2) They are looking forward to Obama approaching relations with South Africa and the rest of the world in a new, refreshing, peaceful, and respectful way.
3) They are excited about America having a Black president and think that it represents change and progress in America and the world.
4) They are hopeful that the U.S. will play a more active and positive role in South Africa and Africa as a whole because it now has the son of a Kenyan as its president.

However, not all South Africans are excited that Obama has been elected to be the next U.S. President. Upon questioning them why they did not want Obama to be president, they responded by saying that they were not comfortable having a black U.S. President. You may think that these individuals were stubborn, white Afrikaners who are stuck in the Apartheid frame of mind. On the contrary, these were young, black, and fairly intelligent individuals! Needless to say, I was very surprised, but I didn't feel comfortable pressing them on why they were uncomfortable with the idea. However, there are a few possible reasons that I've conjectured (It's important to note that these may or may not be true, but are just some of my possible guesses).
1) It's just very weird for them to think of having a black U.S. President, and they are having a hard time reconciling it in their mind.
2) They've experienced what they may consider to be an inept South African government led mainly by blacks, and they worry that a black man will be a poor leader of America. (Even as I write this, I realize that it may sound somewhat racist. Personally, I don't believe this, but I recognize that some South Africans may.)
3) They're afraid that people will have such high expectations of Obama, and that if he fails his failure will reflect poorly on blacks as a whole.
4) Some of any of a number of different reasons that I have failed to think of.

I realize that I may have spoken about sensitive topics in this post, and I apologize if I have struck a raw nerve with anyone. However, as always, it's important to note that this blog represents my personal thoughts and opinions and not those of the Peace Corps. Feel free to post any comments/questions that you may have.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thoughtful comments, Brandon. I'd been wondering about the reaction in Africa.

Sherrilyn said...

Oops, that was me, Sherrilyn.

Kim said...

I think you touched on a few very likely reasons why some black South Africans may not have wanted Obama to win. And I think you were clear that these were not your feelings, but possible perceptions of others based on your cultural experience. It helps paint the picture of life in S.A. Great post!

I miss it.

Maia said...

Hi Brandon

Where are u and what are u doing?
Shouldn't u be in Zimbabwe? They need u there?