While most observers have been taken in by how the rest of the world are still celebrating Barack Obama's victory, others are using his victory to ask hard questions about racism in Europe and now democracy in Africa, the continent of his father.
In a piece that is making the rounds on the internet, Mozambican novelist Mia Couto gets into six reasons why it unlikely why Obama could pull off his electoral victory in an African country:
1. If Obama were African, his opponent (any of Africa's George Bushes) would find a way to change the constitution to prolong his mandate beyond the expected term. And our Obama would have to wait a couple more years to run again. The wait could be long, if we take into account the permanence of a single president in power in Africa. Some 41 years in Gabon, 39 in Libya, 28 in Zimbabwe, 28 in Equatorial Guinea, 28 in Angola, 27 in Egypt, 26 in Cameroon. And so on, running through as many as 15 presidents on the continent in office for more than 20 consecutive years. Mugabe will celebrate his 90th birthday when the latest mandate which he imposed in defiance of the popular verdict runs out.
2. If Obama were African, it is probable that, being a candidate of the opposition party, he would have the opportunity to campaign. They would threat him, for example, as in Zimbabwe or in Cameroon: he would be physically attacked, arrested again and again, have his passport withdrawn. The Bushs of Africa do not tolerate opponents, do not tolerate democracy.
3. If Obama were African, he wouldn't even be eligible in many countries because the elites in power invented restrictive laws that close the doors of the presidency to children of foreigners and descendants of immigrants. The Zambian nationalist Kenneth Kaunda is being questioned, in his own country, as a son of Malawians. They conveniently "discovered" that the man who led Zambia to independence and ruled for more than 25 years was, after all, a Malawian, and therefore had governed "illegally" for all this time. Arrested for alleged coup intentions, our Kenneth Kaunda (who gave his name to one of the most prominent avenues of Maputo) was banned from engaging in politics, thus freeing the regime of an opponent.
4. Let us be clear: Obama is black in the United States. In Africa he is mulatto. If Obama were African, he would see his race used against him. Not that skin color is really important for people who want to see leaders that are competent and and work seriously. But the predatory elites would campaign against someone who they would designate as "not an authentic African.". The same black brother who is hailed today as the new American president would be humiliated at home as being representative of "the others", those of another race, another flag (or perhaps no flag at all)..
5. If he were African, our "brother" would have to give an account to moralists when he thought of including thanks in his speech for support from gays. A mortal sin for advocates of the so-called "pure African." For these moralists - so often in power, or with the powerful - homosexuality is an unacceptable defect that is external to Africa and to Africans.
6. If he should win an election, Obama would probably have to sit at the negotiation table and share power with the loser, in a degrading negotiating process that in some African countries allows the loser to renegotiate that which seems sacred - the will of the people expressed in the votes. At this point, Barack Obama would be sitting at a table with a Bush in endless rounds negotiating with African mediators who would tell us to be content with crumbs from those electoral processes that do not satisfy the dictators.
Read the whole piece here in Portuguese and here in English translation (scroll down).