By Henry D Gombya
As Africa and Asia once again descend into political instability caused by leaders who overstay in power, the first African American to become President of the United States vowed to support democracy in both those continents saying it was in the interests of Americans ‘to act on behalf of those who long for freedom’.
To many in Africa and Asia watching the glorious event on Capitol Hill in Washington DC yesterday, they could only but marvel at the simplest way in which American democracy is practiced. For at Capitol Hill yesterday there was no boycotting Obama’s swearing-in ceremony by the opposition as was the case recently in Ghana, West Africa, nor did the loser of last years US election had to be put under house arrest as it was in elections held last year in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Indeed, no heavily armed troops in military fatigue were called out to ‘keep peace’ as was the case in Uganda not so long ago and there was no fighting between the winning and losing political parties resulting into the loss of hundreds of lives as happened not so long ago in Kenya, the birthplace of President Obama’s father.
This was indeed a moment for all Americans to marvel at the success of their own democracy and for the citizens of the continents mentioned above to wonder what they could do to get to this stage. As Arab countries last year demonstrated the need for change to establish the freedom to freely choose who they wanted to lead them, the United States once again showed you do not need to rule a country alone for as long as you live for it to be democratic.
AS CNN put it: “It was a seemingly wistful moment at the halfway mark of his presidency, before the celebratory parade and the evening’s galas. Shortly after exhorting the United States to continue its “never-ending journey” to live up to the ideals of its founders, on his way off the platform at the West Front of the Capitol, President Barack Obama stopped to drink in the scene before him: ‘I want to take a look one more time,” he told those surrounding him: ‘I’m not going to see this again’.”
With an established constitution that ensures that a new president must be sworn in on January 20 after election, Mr Obama knows he will never contest any other election in his life. For him, retirement is set in blocks of gold and starts on January 20, 2017. This smooth transfer of power makes it look so easy and lets one wonder; what is it that drives African leaders to change constitutions and win election after election until they fall dead probably through exhaustion?