|Barack Obama, the US Senator from Illinois who is running for president, is a leader like no other in the world today. He has captured the imagination of a generation and inspired millions across the world, not just by his charisma, but by his optimism and his faith in the capacity of those who have been hurt and those who have hurt them to come together and live in peace.His is a message of hope and unity which resonates with a world — and societies such as ours — that is hurting and suffering. Downtrodden people from the Third World feel that here is a man they could identify with: A member of a racial minority, reaching out to the disparate units of his nation without anger or bitterness, with a message of acceptance and humanity.
It is the same approach that Nelson Mandela used to heal South Africa.
ON THE OTHER HAND, THE MOTIVAtion for Senator Hilary Clinton and her husband has a certain ghastly familiarity, especially to Africans: a political dynasty in the making. Mrs Clinton is quite likely a gifted politician, as was her husband. Just like President George W. Bush is probably gifted, as was his father. Besides, as a woman, she is breaking new ground.
But in Mrs Clinton, the world sees more of the same, a continuation of the old approaches to resolving the issues of nations. The emotion-drenched administration of her husband with its scandals and torrents of PR were particularly tiresome to those who looked to the US for leadership.
The sustained attack against Mr Obama by the Clinton campaign, especially the ones which seem to have their basis on race and religion, have also alienated many around the world.
Mrs Clinton has suggested that Mr Obama is not suited to be commander-in-chief. Her husband, the former president, has said he hopes that the presidential race is between his wife and Senator John MacCain, the Republican nominee, “two people who love their country.”
The implication was that Mr Obama is not patriotic. Yet the evidence is that Mr Obama is a proud, patriotic American.
There is nothing admirable about a politician who would rather destroy her party, or country, than lose an election.
Mrs Clinton’s cynicism, dismissing Mr Obama’s politics as “speeches,” “hope-mongering” and a “fairy tale” is unstimulating to a world suffering wars, terrorism, economic hardship and uncertainty and centuries of racial hatred.
Mr Clinton is well-liked in Africa because of his administration’s policies, which were supportive of trade with the continent. He has also done charity work, especially against Aids. But Africans’ regard for him is unlikely to remain the same because of his largely unfair but spirited efforts to destroy a young idealistic politician from his own party.
Mrs Clinton could rule America — and the world — but she never could change it. Mr Obama is the kind of leader who will.