Feb 112008
Authors: Luci StorelliCastro

Dear Mates,

After the dust had settled from voters hitting the polls on Super Tuesday, one candidate remained standing on the Republican side.

Meanwhile, for the Democrats, Super Tuesday served only to reinforce what many political pundits had predicted: This race is far from over for Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama.

Although the early stages of the primaries witnessed a confused and fractured Republican electorate, with each state selecting a different candidate as their top choice, Republicans seem to have finally united under Sen. McCain.

Conversely, in the Democratic field, the contention for the nomination has consistently been a battle between Clinton and Obama, with the baton switching from one candidate to the other.

While the American electorate tosses and turns between the prospect of a woman as president or an African-American as president, most Africans I have come across seem to have found their darling for the Democrat ticket in Obama.

“I feel he is young and has a fresh face,” said Ghanaian Akua Anyenedu, an undeclared freshman at the University of Ghana. “He also has a good vision for the American people in general, not just for the elite.”

For others, such as Mofe Ayu, a Nigerian sophomore studying geology at the University of Ghana, the most appealing aspect of Sen. Obama is his race.

“He would be the first black American to be president,” Ayu said.

Similarly, Liberian refugee and founding member of the non-profit Mediators Without Borders, Bartuah Ninwillay, predicts Obama would “speak for the blacks.”

Beyond being black, Obama is also the son of a Kenyan, which in the eyes of many Africans, makes him African as well.

“He’s African; he’s got the blood in him,” Anyenedu said. “Once an African, always an African,”

Ninwillay agreed, adding, if elected president, Obama would surely make Kenyans proud as “they would be having their son serving as the American president.”

The fact that Obama traces his roots to Kenya, however, does not necessarily mean that Africans find affinity with him.

“He’s Kenyan and I’m Nigerian,” said Ayu, pointing to cultural differences.

Zimbabwean Mavis Kadera, a freshman pre-med student at the University of Ghana, said, “When it comes to Africa, there’s a lot of tribalism. People are different.”

Unlike most other Africans I have encountered, Kadera is a Clinton supporter.

“I would like to see what a woman could do as president. Maybe a woman’s touch could change things in a positive way,” Kadera said.

Citing a history of rogue regimes, Kadera said “men have wrecked havoc on this earth.”

Indeed, many men in positions of power have wrecked havoc on earth, but aren’t women capable of just the same? Was former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher not as hawkish and emotionally detached from human suffering as some of the worst male leaders of our time?

Questions also surround Obama in terms of the influence his Kenyan roots will play if elected president. How will his skin color affect his policy choices?

Moreover, African heads of state have had a troubling governing record of despotism, corruption and the like. So why elect someone considered an African president of the United States?

Anyenedu disagrees with the insinuation that an Obama presidency would mean that the deplorable governing tactics used by some African leaders would surface on the American political scene.

Referring to his having resided in other countries, such as Indonesia, she believes that “he will pick the good things from one place and implement them.”

While there was some variation in reasons given for supporting Obama and Clinton, there was unanimity on the need to oust President Bush and the Republican Party from power.

It will be interesting to see how these feelings play out in President Bush’s upcoming Africa tour.

Hopefully, Air Force One has an anti-ballistic rotten tomatoes shield.

Luci Storelli-Castro is a senior political science and philosophy major. Her column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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