African Ubuntu's Time Has Come; US Presidential Candidate Barack/Obama Is Western Democracy's Great Hope, Writes Chris Chivers

Cape Times (South Africa), February 13, 2007 | Go to article overview

African Ubuntu's Time Has Come; US Presidential Candidate Barack/Obama Is Western Democracy's Great Hope, Writes Chris Chivers


The news that Illinois's 45-year-old senator, Barack Obama, has entered the race for president of the United States in 2008 is not only fantastic news for Western, indeed for global democracy, it is also the best possible news for Africa.

So-called liberal Western democracy is, frankly, dying on its feet. Both in the US and in the UK - as well as elsewhere in Europe - nations are finding it increasingly difficult to turn citizens into voters. The turn-out for elections is phenomenally low.

But the anecdotal evidence is even more depressing. Politicians know by now that they are a turn-off. People are simply not interested in the partisan way in which they carry on. There is enough violence in the world - mostly as a result of their policies.

People just don't want the verbal scrapping and mud-slinging, the sleaze and innuendo that has for too long characterised Western political discourse, and that for some incomprehensible reason been held out as the model for everyone else to follow.

Gandhi's famous quip comes to mind. "What do you think of Western civilisation?" he was asked. "I think it's a very good idea," he replied.

As a child, I learnt that "Western civilisation" and its politics could, of course, produce priceless moments of wit and wisdom. Nancy Astor accusing Winston Churchill of drunkenness, and receiving that most famous of responses: "Madam, I may be drunk this evening. You are ugly. In the morning I shall be sober."

But as I grew up, I realised that beneath the wit of such repartee lay an implicit fault-line that the hard-line regime of a Margaret Thatcher or a Ronald Reagan, and the chaotic weakness of what followed in the John Major and George Bush senior years, lay very bare.

There had been some great bi-partisan moments, of course. A stack of Labour MPs voting with Ted Heath's government to overcome a narrow nationalism and launch Britain into the heart of Europe to play a role in ensuring that there could never be a repetition of 1930s Germany and Italy, or Stalinist Russia for that matter.

Just as there was the amazing tenacity of a Helen Suzman, single-handedly taking on the might of the latter-day fascists with complete courage and conviction, to ensure that the flag of democracy and human rights was held high amidst the barbarism of apartheid.

But not even the real Iron Lady (from Houghton rather than Finchley) could repel the roaring tide of cynicism and apathy which was sweeping Western democracies, and asserting with a force - which is only now being recognised by mainstream politicians - that the partisan slinging-match really has had its day.

A reunited Germany began to |get the point as it constructed |pain-staking coalition governments to focus on the many issues |that were the consequence of the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

Anti-Iraq war protesters across Western societies also caught the bug - following in the wake of other single-issue causes like Live Aid in 1985 or the debt-cancelling Jubilee 2000 campaign - to bring an improbable alliance of people on to the streets of the world.

All over the globe, people asserted a common desire to fashion peace, not from a so-called war on terror, but from the removal of injustice wherever it is found. Just as Al Gore's amazing film, An Inconvenient Truth, is regalvanising a world-wide response to global warming, by showing us the alarming impact of our carbon footprints.

But it is only an Obama presidency that can galvanise this changing tide and perhaps deliver the pearl of greatest price to a world racked by poverty, disease and conflict.

A few weeks ago, I found myself in Boston, Massachusetts, standing on a cold January morning outside the city's State House to watch the swearing-in of Deval Patrick as the very first black American governor.

Like Obama, Patrick has made a name for himself for his bipartisan approach which cuts through the old arguments, rows and even hatreds as it tries to bring people of all parties and persuasions, creeds, cultures and colours together, to ach-ieve new alliances in pursuit of common goals. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

African Ubuntu's Time Has Come; US Presidential Candidate Barack/Obama Is Western Democracy's Great Hope, Writes Chris Chivers
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.