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An Open Letter to President-Elect Barack Obama

Born in Tanzania, I spent the first eighteen years of my life in East Africa. In 1972, after being kicked out of Uganda by Idi Amin because of my Indian heritage, I came to America, stayed for a decade and even took up American citizenship. Frustrated during this period with the insular thinking of many Americans and the effects of the military/industrial complex of that time, I left the country to go live on different shores as an expatriate.

When Barack Obama won the primaries for the general election of 2008, it was the first time in many years that I began to pay attention to American politics.  

I have spent the last few months glued to the mass media: the newspapers, Internet, and my TV screen, switching from BBC to CNN to Al Jazeera, scrutinizing every word by the pundits, the Red and Blue state polls, the U-Tube bloggers, the world reactions to the primary campaigns, the DNC and RNC hype, the Bloomberg and CNBC gloom and doom soothsayers, the choice of Veeps, and the impact that this particular US general election would have on the rest of the world.

It is in that spirit that I write this open letter to the 44th President of the United States in the hope that my plea, my prayer for him and America is listened to from an ex-pat who once had a very deep admiration for my adopted country and one who has sadly seen the credibility of that same country gradually diminish more and more across our globe.

Open Letter to the Luo Man in the White House

Growing up in East Africa, tribal names like Luo and Kikuyu were household words.
As was the history of Zanzibar’s 16th century slave market.
The horrific site symbolized with weeping statues of Man/Woman/Child,
With iron chains around their necks still in place.
Four centuries later, Racism’s collaborators, Black, White, and Arab scream inside us.
Forgive but never forget is the credo we live by.
As new madmen— Botha, Idi Amin, Bokassa and Mugabe—
Ravage the genocidal legacy of my wretched continent of exile.

Fast forward to November 2008…
Babylon is engulfed in two regional wars.
She becomes the root cause of global economic collapse.
Billions spent on Armaments, Homeland Security, Wall Street Bailouts—the Fear Factor. Meanwhile, Phillies win the World Series, America wins the Ryder Cup—Life is good.
After a 22-month campaign, one more billion dollars later,
The divided land elects a new President for redemption.
A mullato Luo writer, Harvard lawyer, Chicago community organizer, emerges victor.

Black Lazarus risen from the ashes? Karmic fate from the gods? Atonement?
Nominated in a Denver football stadium on the 45th anniversary of MLK’s March to DC,
With Stevie Wonder crooning to 80,000 in tears,
Barack Hussein Obama ignites hope, oblivious of color.
Is he truly a Babylon unifier, greed destroyer, savior of an imploding Empire?
Will the Washington DC “old boys network” drive, derail, or decapitate him?
Many Americans can’t even spell his name. Couldn’t he be a Barry or Obi instead?

On election night, the world, on edge, watches as results trickle in, state by state.
Kogelo, a thousand strong village in Kenya where Grandma Sarah is pounding cassava,
Celebrates with Obama T-shirts, Senator beer, and family cheers at a namesake school.
In Japan, the town of Obama cashes in with a festival of Samurai dancers.
A quarter million Chicagoans in Grant Park erupt into jigs as Jesse and Oprah weep
Thousands yell outside the White House till dawn to ensure Bush another sleepless night.

Will the Middle East find peace?
Will Africa find stability without poverty?
Will Asia rearrange IMF and World Bank?
Will Latin America free itself from Gringolandia?
Will you deliver Barack?
If you do, and it’s a huge IF,
Will the world get to vote on your second term re-election?

The Cold War resurfaces.
Missiles in Poland and Venezuela.
Circle the Wagons.
Dubya, the born again Crusader, the oil magnet, is busy shredding classified memos.
Genociders in Darfur and Goma.
Female suicide bombers in Gaza and Kandahar.
China walks in cosmic space.
Himalayan and Artic ice caps are melting.
Billions in Bank Bailouts as Marx laughs hysterically from his grave.
Five million US home foreclosures.
What next?

Who will have your ear Barack?
Warren Buffett or Muhammad Yunus?
Zbigniew Brzezinski or Samantha Powers?
Benjamin Nataniahu or Hanan Ashrawi?
David Suzuki or Exxon?
Joe the Plumber, the real one?

World Citizen, Chameleon Man, who will you become?
Gabriel, Garibaldi, Goebbels, or Gandhi?

Reply ASAP. The world is waiting with unbridled hope.

November 5, 2008

-Mo Tejani