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Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Blessed One

Original Article: Daily Times
Date Published: Nov 15, 2012
Original Link:\11\15\story_15-11-2012_pg3_5

Four years ago, when a junior senator from Illinois shocked the entire world by leaving many contenders behind and came to the top, it was unbelievable. Everyone, including this scribe, was sceptical about him really reaching the finish line. Little did his detractors know, despite his supposedly ‘funny’ name, he was the man destined to alter the course of history. Perhaps it was all about his name that made him so determined and, yes, very blessed. When Mr Obama took the oath of office and became the first African-American president, many grownups cried like children. There are certain moments where emotions overpower your entire being, and perhaps it was one of those moments, when Barack Hussein Obama, a son of a Kenyan immigrant, became the 44th president of the United States of America.

Mr Obama’s critics and so-called pundits gave their verdict by labelling him as a single term president. They said he would be unable to accomplish much. Imagine inheriting a financial train wreck if you will; imagine getting a divided nation; imagine a deprived and wounded nation to lead. Yet the man, who was ridiculed as a mere ‘community organiser’ by the former mayor of New York City, decided to organise his nation under the banner of “Hope” and “Change”. One may disagree with him or criticise him for using these clichéd terms but discounting him or his presence is next to impossible.

No, this is not an article about how Mr Obama has proven his detractors wrong yet once again in 2012 by almost scoring a landslide victory against his challenger. It is about the person Barack Obama, mostly unknown and mostly overlooked. Behind the exterior persona of a suave, dashing, and debonair orator is perhaps an insecure, a bit scared, anxious and a bit nervous child, longing for the love of his father that he barely had. One can only get a glimpse into the real Barack Obama by embarking on his personal journey along with him through his books, where he opens the door for you and you get to share his trials, tribulations, challenges, sorrows and moments of joy with him. Both The Audacity of Hope and Dreams from My Father are flawlessly narrated by him on the audio versions, captivating the listeners completely. The former takes the reader or a listener to his world of becoming a community organiser in Illinois and then his race towards becoming a Senator from Illinois, whereas the latter truly touches you with his emotional roller coaster of a partial relationship with his father, which eventually leads him to trace his roots all the way to Kenya.

I must admit I was truly moved by the purity and sincerity of emotions displayed by Mr Obama in his book about his father. You can relate to the teenager Obama waiting to hear from his father and the anguish he must have experienced at a tender age while growing up far away from both of his parents. Losing a father to a car accident in Kenya and a loving mother to a bout with cancer, growing up with grandparents and still be able to grow up as a fine African-American man is quite an achievement.

Mr Obama has the candid ability to entertain his audience by delivering superb impressions of his grandparents, President Bush, his Kenyan relatives and average African-Americans in the audio version of Dreams from My Father. Barack Obama is undoubtedly a highly underrated performer. Had he not taken the route of politics, he could have made it big on TV or perhaps Hollywood.

One is transported to Mr Obama’s world of excitement and adventures with his family and extended family members. There you get to meet his maternal grandfather, a World War veteran, his grandmother “Toots”, the banker, his compassionate mother, his overly charming father, Aunt Zaytuni, Cousin Bernard, his Indonesian stepfather and many other real characters along the way. It is truly a remarkable story, perhaps a script made for a Hollywood blockbuster. One gets to meet Barry who is in search of his own identity in a very black and white world of the 1970s and early 1980s. It is about a young Obama on the basketball court, unsure of his future, his internal turmoil with his split identity, trying hard to fit in truly in both of his black and white worlds.

At the end of the journey with Mr Obama, you tend to realise that one has to be truly blessed to achieve what he has managed to do thus far. Despite the odds, despite the challenges and the monstrous opposition, he has stood firm and determined. Only a man with that kind of desire, will, courage and determination can escalate to become the leader of the free world. Yes, he has actually freed the ‘free world’ of its rotten and old biases too. No wonder, why he is and will be called the blessed one.

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