Monday, May 9, 2011

Barack Obama - 'man of steel'

Little Barack having fun with his grandfather Stanley Dunham on a Hawaii Beach

Barack Obama - 'man of steel' | Jean Lowrie-Chin | Jamaica Observer

Monday, May 09, 2011: It was just last week that this column declared the Obamas the royalty of the Caribbean and African diaspora. Two days after we went to press, King Barack claimed headlines around the world for ordering the elimination of Osama bin Laden, the dreaded leader of the Al Qaeda terrorist group.
Now let me make a confession. When Obama first came to the fore as a presidential nominee, I said to my colleagues, "No way will he get anywhere far in the US with a first name that incredibly rhymes with Osama and to make it harder, a middle name like Hussein." But as we watched his masterful campaign gaining momentum, and his audiences growing from the hundreds to the thousands, we realised that this was a very special leader.
If Barack Obama's life had been a movie script, we would have probably said it was too unrealistic. How could his parents have met in Hawaii, the same place that the black/white young couple met in that movie classic Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, starring Sidney Poitier? How could these brilliant individuals — one from Kenya and one from Kansas — produce an even more brilliant son, who would become the first ever black editor of the Harvard Law Review?
The marriage of his parents dissolved when he was a toddler and his mother Ann Dunham (looking like the sister of that famous Kansan Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz) remarries an Indonesian and takes young Barack to live with his stepfather in that Asian country.
Ann awakened her seven-year-old son early every day to keep his English strong and resonant, playing inspiring recordings. The voice she played to young Barry over and over again: Martin Luther King saying his famous I Have a Dream speech.
As we watched the man with the impossible-to-win name, take the Oath of the Office as President of the United States in January 2009, we saw why former British PM Tony Blair wrote of Barack Obama in his autobiography: "The personal character is clear: this is a man with steel in every part of him." Blair went on to comment that Obama had incredible insight for someone so young.
In the same hands-on way that he managed his marvellous campaign, Barack Obama studied the information he received from US intelligence and after a series of discussions, last week ordered the operation in a little known suburb of Pakistan called Abbottabad. Finally, Osama bin Laden had been located and was duly eliminated by US Navy SEALs. Like Mustafa Muhammad, the leader of the Muslims in Jamaica, most of us are "not losing sleep" over bin Laden's demise.
Obama's visit last Thursday to the site of the bombing of the twin towers in New York City and the New York Fire Department which had lost over 300 firefighters, was a bookend to a horror story that had haunted the entire world.
I should have known something was up last Sunday. We had pitched for first-class from Fort Lauderdale because we wanted to get home in time for Leachim Semaj's press launch of his Asante Adonai Literary Lyme. This was the first time in many months that I had been asked to show all liquids in the security line. Now, I am one of those that the profilers always take out of the line. This Westmoreland girl does look a bit Middle-Eastern, much to the chagrin of my rainbow family who watch, a bit annoyed, from the other side of the room when I am asked to "step this way, please" to be questioned and eventually allowed to rejoin them.
When the first-class bags arrived at the Norman Manley Airport, we and the baggage handlers were puzzled that ours was not among them. We waited for nearly an hour until the final set was unloaded: obviously I had again been profiled and my luggage taken away and thoroughly examined, thus missing the first-class batch.
All this was happening last Sunday when brave Navy SEALs were approaching their target and security was being tightened around the world, just in case Al Qaeda got wind. Sorry, I am not questioning the method because I am relieved that this cold terrorist is no longer around to mastermind another plot to blow up buildings and trains full of innocent people.
So here we have Barack Hussein Obama, showing that steel long ago detected by Tony Blair. It tells us that we should never underestimate a real leader, whether of a family, a church, a business or a country. Effective leadership takes brains, wisdom and bravery and Obama has displayed them all. May he be kept safe as he and his forces work to make this a safer world for us all.

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