November 7th, 2008

A President for the World

There was an air of quiet celebration in the house on Wednesday. My husband and I had taken a little time off work to watch the results of US Election on CNN.

When Obama’s name was announced as the president elect, I watched America and the whole world throw their fists in the air and celebrate. Some were crying, in relief, joy and hope (and for some, disappointment). I can’t help but shed a few tears myself. I’m just happy to be granted the privilege of witnessing this momentous occasion in history.


Last week I was chilling out on the couch after a very tiring day when my 11-year old nephew asked, “Why do the skinheads want to assassinate Obama?” referring to a newspaper report last month. In my state of fatigue, I tried explaining about racism and supremacists but find myself at a loss when he asked, “Why is the colour of one’s skin such a big deal?”


Earlier this year my husband and I were pondering on the probability of America having Barack Obama as president. His proposed policies are generally multilateral, his background is global and he’s got this thing called charisma.

To the world, Obama seemed to be the preferred candidate. Parts of Asia sees him as one of our own (“He speaks Bahasa and has lived in Indonesia! He’s more Asian than your uncle Jo”). Africa, or at least Kenya, claims him as a son of their soil. Middle east welcomes “Hussein” along with the olive branch he’s extending. In a sense, he is a president for the world.

But he is black (or grey as I call it, since he is half white). And we’re afraid that though the world was rooting and ready for him, America didn’t share the same sentiments.


We were wrong to assume that Americans were not mature enough to look beyond racial lines and for once I’m glad we were. There is so much hope and expectation placed on this one man. And he has shown us, with his election, that there is some hope in this world.

With the current global economic crisis and the peril of climate change, it is definitely a challenging time to be the leader of a nation so powerful and influential. Let’s hope that he lives up to at least some of the expectations. :)

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