Thursday, November 06, 2008

Our African president

On our way back to the office from lunch today, we ran into a security guard that we chat with sometimes, Clever. Clever was particularly jubilant today with the results of the U.S. election. He exclaimed, “What a great day! Who would have ever thought that an African would become president of the United States?” It was his phrasing that kind of took me aback. I mean, African-American, yes. But Clever left off the American bit altogether.

Then, it struck me – in Batswana culture, Obama isn't American at all. Botswana citizenship traditionally comes by the father only. The citizenship of the mother is so far from the question that there has even been a lawsuit to only recently make it so that citizenship could be passed by mother only. Therefore, as his father was Kenyan, Obama is strictly an African, by this culture's reckoning. When you consider that the better part of an entire continent may be thinking of it that way, it is kind of startling. That should enhance U.S. relations with much of Africa. Kind of like sending your daughter off to marry a powerful king to assure peace.

1 comment:

K. Conley said...

Wow. That's almost all I can! I'm completely fascinated to be given this opportunity to think about our new president from the perspective of your friend in Africa. Thanks much for sharing that!

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