Saturday, January 28, 2017

Farewell Obama, Hello Trump

Excerpt from Jamaica Observer column published 23 Jan 2017

by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Within a few minutes last Friday, the United States of America, the most powerful country in the world, said farewell to former President Barack Obama and inaugurated their new President, Donald Trump.  According to the polls, Barack Obama is exiting with one of the highest favourability ratings of recent Presidents while Donald Trump is entering the White House with the lowest since polling on this began 45 years ago. One person on social media quipped: “In a few minutes, the leadership of the world changed hands, from Barack Obama … to Angela Merkel!”
Despite the many negative and misguided pronouncements of President Trump particularly his description of Civil Rights Hero Congressman John Lewis as “all talk and no action”, President Obama assured the media in his final Press Conference at the White House that “we’re going to be okay”. 

For those who found the Trump Inauguration traumatic, the late shows on Friday evening brought comic relief.  There was Trevor Noah suggesting that the low attendance at the event was the result of ‘draining the swamp’ while Stephen Colbert suggested that Trump had ‘put America back to work’ hence the turnout.  Both used the aerial views of attendance at the Obama and Trump inaugurations, which showed that Trump had less than one-third of the turnout that Obama did.

Bill Maher had Steve Olbermann as a special guest, so you can imagine the witty hammering that the incoming president received.  Maher’s guests ended on a serious note:  Americans should be vigilant and active to protect their freedom, and the rights of the most vulnerable in their society. 

Kudos, therefore to the hundreds of thousands who marched in Washington DC, throughout America and in cities across the world for the protection of women’s and human rights.  We should be particularly proud of Senator Kamala Harris, whose father is Jamaican-born for her stirring call to the marchers.

Thank you Barack and Michelle Obama

When Barack Obama won the US Presidential elections in 2008, we draped ribbons with Obama pins over portraits of our children.  For people of colour, the ascent of an African American to the White House represented the realisation of Dr Martin Luther King’s dream and the affirmation of Marcus Mosiah Garvey that when you have confidence, you have won before you have even started.
Of course, we were nervous, because with that cynical ‘birther’ movement initiated by Donald Trump who just recently admitted that he was wrong, we wondered if there would be not only digging, but ‘cooking’ of the facts around this brilliant, exemplary couple.  And so, we breathed a sigh of relief when we saw Barack and Michelle Obama, step out of the White House on Friday morning with their heads held high, their reputation not only intact, but enhanced.

We in Jamaica were at fever pitch when President Obama graced us with a visit in 2015. Below is an excerpt from my column of April 15, 2015

[President Obama] walked into the UWI Assembly Hall and hailed his audience with “Greetings, massive!  Wah gwaan, Jamaica?  … I want to thank the University of the West Indies for hosting us.  Big up, You-Wee!  Thank you.  I’ve been making myself at home here.”
As we awaited his arrival, all the talk was about his visit to the Bob Marley Museum, his singing along to “Exodus” and “One Love”, his reference to his collection of Marley albums… This President touched a special chord when he referred to Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce: “I get a chance to say hi to Usain Bolt and Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce. When you have the fastest people on the planet, you’ve got to say hi to them, right?  Because that’s fast. There are a lot of people out there, and they’re the fastest!”  

We do hope President (yes, he keeps his title) and Mrs Obama will visit us soon, so they can feel the love we Jamaicans will always have for them.  God speed, Obama family!

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