A Note from Africa 450 Years in the Making

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From Kuwait to Kenya, Barack Obama’s win Tuesday ignited global celebrations the likes of which we’ve never seen. And on the African continent, well beyond Obama’s father’s homeland, where crises dwarf what we are dealing with in our Great Recession, the sense of pride is humbling. The following is a note from a friend of a filmmaker friend who is a Zimbabwean living in South Africa. I thought it worth sharing:

Comrades, Friends and Citizens of the World…

Let today, November 5 2008, be a day to remember. A day in which a people was finally allowed to sit at the world table with no shame, no self hate, and no fear. A people whose journey to distant shores begun 450 years ago but only now can that people sit down and say:


Today, a country of many skins united under one banner, the banner that if we work our hardest, do our best to be honest, do our best to build and not destroy, to encourage and engage, nothing can stop us.


Today, is the day I Simbarashe Samuel Mabasha saw what Marcus could not, Steve could not, Martin could not, Malcolm could not, I saw a son of Africa and America rise up to take up the baton of the most difficult race in the world.


Today, Comrades and Friends the peoples of the United States of America made a man’s dream come true, a family’s dream, a country’s dream come true and a people’s dream come true. YES THEY DID.


Yes we can dream, Yes we can hope, Yes we can make some change.

Comrades and friends, I am happy and emotional, this for me is the culmination of many things to get my people, Black people, to a place in which they are just part of the world without any fear and shame.

For many this is not a colour issue and it is not, but spare a thought for the smallest big race in the world. Black people, who for 450 years have not had much go well for them, today in a small way they see the works of many who died on slave ships and in cotton fields, in mines, in world wars, in civil wars, and in the realms of hope. Today, for a small moment we can just be.

President-Elect Obama has a lot on his hands and he may not do all that we want him to do, but for me he has done a lot, he inspired me dream even bigger, to work even harder for those that can’t do it for themselves, to hope even more in our shared humanity. Not much tangible change may come but the change of mindsets may begin now.

I applaud the Americans for resounding defeat of McCain/Palin, I commend McCain for a gracious and humble concession speech, I commend you all for letting your imaginations run wild, for hoping and being scared all in one emotion. For being a part of this wild and wonderful journey forward.


Now whether the new “leader of the free world” will actually sit down with Mugabe, or live up to the world’s litany of expectations, remains to be seen. But for now hope realized is a remarkable thing to witness.


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