Magazine article New African

Letter to Barack Obama

Magazine article New African

Letter to Barack Obama

Article excerpt

The popular online magazine, The Root described Barack Obama's speech marking the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday" in Selma as simply "The Passion of a President". Momodou Sabally, former Minister for Presidential Affairs in The Gambia, was so moved by it that in this open letter he implores the leader of the world's most powerful nation to translate that passion into doing something for Africa.

Dear Barack,

It has been a long time since we last met and to be honest I do not expect you to remember me. Well (as you guys would say in America), who cares; it is enough that we met, so whether you remember or not is irrelevant. I am sure you have met millions more since our brush with history at the Georgia Tech University in Atlanta in the year 2007. It was indeed a power-filled moment. Of course, I was an ordinary student in Georgia then but you were no Spock either at that time. For many a sceptic, you were then just a delusional first-time senator seeking your fifteen minutes of fame against the Biliary machine. The rest of that journey of yours, as they say, is history.

Yes Barack, I feel nostalgic for those days of trumpeting the change that we all once believed in. It was the inspiration you exuded in those days that led me to pen the following poem and publish it on your campaign website on the eve of the Democratic conclave in Denver where you were to be anointed as the candidate of the Democratic Party:

   I dare you to challenge Obama
   The world's eighth wonder
   Rising from Chicago, nay Kenya
   He marches to coronation in mile-high Denver
   The hills are shaking
   The bills all shrinking
   All obstacles are collapsing
   His might is so towering
   The world awaits in yearning
   This great awakening
   The triumph of hope and aspiration
   Over cynicism and trepidation
   Michele's man has proved beyond doubt
   That hope and faith, devout
   Can surmount any hill no matter the bill.

That was then and time has sped past; events have rolled on and the hope you sold hit the rocky road of reality, but you weathered the storms along the way. And then you became the cornerstone of the American building after the initial rejection. We met again in New York in September 2013 at the General Assembly lunch hosted by the UN Secretary-General; the man with the moon-like face. Again it was a brief moment when we shook hands and this time I was no ordinary student. I was representing my Boss, the President of The Gambia, at that lunch as Minister responsible for Presidential Affairs.

So much for history brother Barack; my letter is motivated by the mind-blowing speech you made last weekend at Selma. I was so moved that I shouted out loud: here comes my man; Barack Obama is back; the man has rediscovered himself! Bingo: we are the ones we have been waiting for! And to quote John Keats: "Truth is beauty, beauty truth; that is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know."

Barack, you really made me proud on 6 March; you filled my heart with courage, hope and rekindled faith. Finally, you spoke your heart out after a long silence. Yes, after a long silence, your heart finally spoke; for as Paulo Coelho says in The Alchemist, the heart gets rusty and retreats to the inner recess of our being when we stop heeding its call or trumpeting its sacred notes; your heart spoke once more: yes we can! …

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