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Wishing you well, President Obama, but…

Your courage and vision must be commended. But there are concerns that are shared by people in developing countries such as mine; amongst which are cultural.  And since your ancestral roots are traced in Africa, and therefore regarded by African people as their kith and kin, it is not surprising that your recent remarks appearing to bless abnormal sexual relations has not been taken kindly against your good name.

This will be among the points that will be raised in this column published by Tanzania’s oldest newspaper - which is this newspaper. Mr President, before addressing the latter, let me hasten to tell you something, which given your avid reading you may have come across. It was the founder President of this country, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, who once said that he wished the American vote was taken globally. 

Mwalimu Nyerere had gone ahead to explain the reason for elections in your country being joined by the rest in the international community.  Your country’s status as a superpower capable of pushing this shared planet for the worst or best was the reason why the American vote mattered to all.  Such remarks by Mwalimu, aired during the bi-polar era, were meaningful as they make an even urgent meaning today when your country, Mr President, has assumed a unipolar status. 

Therefore, the ramifications of this current status of your country are awful and far-reaching. A leader of this unipolar power therefore carries on his shoulders equally immense responsibilities not only for his country but also for the rest in the world. These are the facts, which I am sure, Mr President, you are very conscious of.

But for me, I do not know whether the president of the United States is his own man or is an adherent of his own respective conscience in the discharge of his responsibilities as president.  Or is there a hidden hand or other shadowy powerful hands actually dictating to him on how to run the country?

You may find such questions a little bizarre, Mr President, but watching you run your country in your first term of office, when you quite admirably took the good decision to pull out of Iraq, what, or who obliged you to wind up in Afghanistan?  Didn’t it occur to you then, as you may be experiencing today, that you were actually jumping from one heap of mess to a bonfire?

What was at stake; Vis a Vis the interests of your country? What could have been a better option to resolve the problems of those guys wearing thick beards? A military option? Since then and now, you are stuck in an even bigger quagmire, Mr President, isn’t it?    

Some of us watched you with considerable admiration when you made that powerful speech on cultural and religious tolerance at Al-Azhar University in Cairo. At any level, that was both a visionary and watershed speech that most us thought would be a compass in your country’s relations with other people of the world in their multicultural dimension.

But that was not to be! You seemed to shift one problem from one hand to another!  But it is not too late, is it, Mr President for you to pull out your forces and support the Afghans diplomatically in resolving their own differences? Here now comes a stronger point of your Administration in your preceding term. Looking beyond your shoulders, you have been able to see the suffering of the majority poor of your country. You have pushed an admirable social welfare agenda embracing medical insurance for all.

Eh! Bwana! And I am writing the word ‘bwana’ deliberately because you know its meaning and can pronounce it well given your ancestral background as a native of my part of the world in East Africa where your old man, Mzee Hussein Obama, hailed! Your move to champion a social welfare agenda has not been without consequences from the far right of the American society and those racial chauvinists. 

Suddenly a group called “tea party” goers sprang up calling you all sorts of names among which was being branded a “socialist”! I do not know what sort of “tea” these people drink! Certainly the kind of tea they take can hardly be my brand of tea Mr President! What amuses me today is that decades after the collapse of Stalinist structures in Europe, some people find it an appropriate “insult” to call someone a socialist! But these people have gone further. They have even called you a “secret” Muslim!

That you have neither been distracted nor discouraged tells volumes of your social-economic mission you set yourself as you sought the office of president of your country. To aspire for president is one thing, to have a vision for that office is another! Looking at a larger world today, bridging the gap between the filthily rich in society and the staggering poor majority is a topical agenda even in developed countries described in the developing world like mine as ‘donor’ countries.

This was an agenda in the just ended vote in France, which has brought to power socialists led by the new President, Francois Hollande.  Let me hasten to point out, Mr President, that the less to do majority in your country are your real constituency and there is nothing else which you should bank on as you seek a second term. 

But you know as much as I do that there are no perfect people anywhere. The human specie is a complex phenomenon and one cannot please all or get accepted by all! And in society, you have everybody. Whereas one may appear a male on face value, but the same person may want to play female in private life! By the same token, whereas one may appear female, but her chosen companion in private life may as well end up to be a fellow female!

These people are what are described today as “gays” in polite terms. They have been there times immemorial and are detailed in all the major Holy Books. They are in Africa, as much as in Europe and everywhere. Whereas upright people know their existence, none among the upright would want to support their abnormal conduct publicly! 

So it is in this context that people who share your ancestral roots have received with considerable shock and dismay the news that you have become the first sitting American President to support the notion of same sex marriages.  Mr President, you need the vote, everyone’s vote in America. But you have to choose between a conscience and populism. 

Since you have a conscience and which conscience has propelled you to the highest office of the United States, you need to sustain self-dignity in conventional uprightness.     Of course you are president for all Americans, gays included.

But since marriage is, by and large, a private undertaking of individuals, then it is none of the business of the candidate for the presidency of the United States to champion marriages -- least of all gay marriages!  Mr President, it is not too late for you to re-clarify your conscientious stance on this matter.

You may re-state that as President of the United States, it is none of your business to bless or un-bless marriages – or dictating to people how to run their lives with the opposite sex. If you will re-clarify, saying as much, level-headed people will read you between the lines and appreciate your point.  Already you have a large constituency Mr President; who are the poor majority among American people whom you championed in the last term. They are not likely to let you down! I remain, Fraternally, Makwaia Kuhenga

E-mail: wakuhenga@gmail.com

LAST week, following the inauguration of the newlyelected ...

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Author: MAKWAIA WA KUHENGA

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