Barack Hussein Obama (b.1961) was elected President of the USA in November 2008. It was a success which carried complex and perhaps fortuitous messages both about and for the USA and also ‘the world’. On the one hand, as a Democrat, it was a success which signified a turning away from a Republican ascendancy that had also been a Bush family ascendancy. It might be a soft-pedalling of the assertive external policies discussed in earlier chapters. The oscillation between parties, however, was not in itself surprising. A surprise might have been that the successful candidate was a woman. However, Hillary, wife of former President Clinton, lost out in the contest for her party’s nomination. So there was no surprise in the election of a man. What was surprising was the man. By the time he became of age, the world landscapes which had moulded his seniors had changed. While much comment in the USA and abroad focussed on Obama as ‘the first black African-American’ president, such a categorization underplayed the complexities of his world inheritance. To be born in Hawaii was not in itself especially exotic, but his white mother (British/Irish by descent) had met and then married his Kenyan father, a Luo, when at university in Honolulu. The couple had been studying Russian. Obama senior was on the kind of scholarship which brought potential ‘leaders’ of ‘the new Africa’ to the USA at this time.
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