Obama majority includes many who are yearning for real engagement with Africa

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The Denver Post

World Reacts to Obama Victory-

The recriminations are pouring in; Mitt Romney and the GOP lost the elections, big time. What’s the reason for the loss? Let’s take a look at what people are saying in America and beyond.

Many pundits, including those who wrongly predicted the outcome of the elections, attribute the main cause to changing U.S. demographics.  Ross Douthat, a conservative voice for the New York Times editorial pages calls this change, “The Obama Realignment.”

Douthat wrote, rather candidly on November 7, a day after the elections, “The age of Reagan is officially over, and the Obama majority is the only majority we have.” What a statement!

In another interesting piece on November 10, Douthat thinks there is now a demographic excuse that some are using to explain why things happened the way they did with the 2012 elections.

Whether this majority and the demographics Douthat is talking about is local, only tied to America, or global, tied to the rest of the world, is hard to decipher from his opinions.

But I could not agree more with his perspective. But Douthat, 32, is only one among a plethora of writers from the Left, Right and Center, looking back to U.S. Election 2012 in awe.

What’s for sure is that, the handwringing will go on for a while.

Right now I like to look at things from the lens of an African in America and one who thinks this new reality presents opportunities for discussion of a different kind. It is about what is often ignored in U.S. politics at the local level, akin to realignment, much of which we heard nothing about during the campaigns.

How does the rest of the world fit into the Obama majority we are hearing about? How does Africa, for that matter, fit into this?

The question going around on the blogosphere is this: What does Obama’s re-election mean for sub Saharan Africa?  And there are tons of perspectives on the issue.

A few have caught my attention.

“Sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya, went virtually unnoticed in the U.S. presidential election campaigns. Trumped by domestic issues and a dragging war in Afghanistan,”said the Reuters News Agency. 

If that is the case, Africa, except for Libya and Egypt, was ignored during the campaigns.

Now, the real treasure may now be in the rubble, to borrow from writer and author, Kent Ira Groff.

Amid the soul searching for answers, Africa and Africans may be another place to dig into to discover what new opportunities it can offer to America.

The 44th U.S. president polls very strongly in Africa. This “instinctive fondness” with Obama in Africa is something that Tolu Ogunlesi, a Lagos based Nigerian Journalist, has taken the time to explain.

In a mock poll taken among Nigerians the night of the elections, Obama trounced Romney, 219 to 30 votes, Oguniesi explained in a piece written for CNN.com on November 12.

“Taken at face value a Barack Obama presidency should be a big deal for Africa,” he said.

But the reality is different.

“That obsession with Obama appears to obscure the fact that his predecessor — the white, Republican George W. Bush — demonstrated a more obvious commitment to the continent during his first presidential term,” wrote Oguniesi.

‘One place where America’s influence has declined is Africa,” said Aaron Schachter in a lead story, broadcast on Public Radio International(PRI), the day after the U.S. elections.

While the Chinese have taken over things in Africa, to the dismay of many in the West, many Africans still want to give the president a second chance.

In a personal letter addressed to Obama and posted online, Mwangi S. Kimenyi, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, calls on the president to go a step beyond Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in advancing U.S. –Africa relations.

Kimenyi thinks the time is ripe for Obama to do the right thing, saying, it would have hurt him politically if he engaged with Africa too much in his first term.

“A concentrated focus on Africa has low political returns and high risks. It is conceivable that, had your administration taken a major interest on Africa, this move could have been used against you during your re-election bid. Thus, it is apparent that your administration’s new strategy takes a very cautious approach to engaging Africa. It is informed more by political calculus rather than what is really best for both United States and Africa,” Kimenyi wrote.

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