The marker that I placed on this book shows that I purchased it in Abuja on 19th Oct 2011. Thinking back, I faintly recollect attending ICAN’s Annual Accountants Conference and must have purchased this book, along with others, at the foyer of the conference. I love books but if the truth must be told, it is not easy finding time within my busy schedule to read and do justice to each of the books in my collection.
Going by the purchase date, I must have started reading this Obama book the very next day it was purchased. I do remember that as I read the first few chapters, I could not put the book down. Having watched Obama deliver different speeches in his current role as the President of America, I have come to admire his oratory skills. He is enchanting and probably more gifted in his ability to use words to move mountains. We saw him do this and getting Obama Care through the house. He recently repeated this in getting the Republican lawmakers to back down on the budget stand-off that would have shut the government and plunge the United States into default. Whichever way you look at him, apart from being the President, he is an interesting orator. In reading his memoir, I was interested in understanding how he came to acquire this skill. Additionally, being the very first black president of the United States, I believe he not only understand what racism is but has coped very well in managing this in a way that equipped and got him into the White House. I wanted to know what he knew and understand how he was able to rise above all odds.
Then, I had to relocate and move my house. I must have struggled between what I needed to take along and what needed to be stored – in the face of restriction on the weight of things that I can ship. Sadly, I could not take the book with me, as with some other very important items also. A recent trip to the storage and high on my list of things to retrieve were the books. Suffice to say that finally, I have finished reading the book. A book that tells of how an ordinary boy of mixed parentage traversed Hawaii, Indonesia, Chicago and in the midst of this was constantly battling with identifying himself – who am I? To me, this is reflective of the battle that goes on daily in the life of many African Americans, Latinos and people of different races growing up in Western Culture. Unfortunately for these people, they are mostly not accepted by their race and not least by America or the Western Country (be it Germany, Australia or UK) that they now called home. So the battle rages on.
For Obama, the trip to Kenya, in search of an answer to the question Who am I did not help to fully resolve this. One thing, however, was that he was able to establish his root, understand the cultures to which he is remotely linked by blood and probably for the very first time, found acceptance in a people that can identify that his name “Obama” doesn’t sound strange! He knew Kenya was home.
One great lesson that one should not miss in the book is that our life journey, the experiences are all important in aiding us to achieve our full potential. Obama the President was Obama the activist, he was Obama the rebellious little Hawaiian boy, who rarely met kids whose families had less than his. The same Obama that all respect and hold dear today was that little boy who was flying kites in Djakarta. He was the same Obama that was moving from one house to another, spending winter in Chicago, to canvasing for better amenities in Altgeld, a dump – and a place to house poor blacks. We should also learn that good parenting is powerful! Where would Obama be today if not for Toot and if not for Gamps? Obama learnt values from his mother and we all should teach our kids values – these outlast everything. He learnt that if he wanted to grow into a human being, he needed some values, values such as Honesty, Fairness, Straight Talk and Independent Judgement.
“All too rarely do I hear people asking just what it is that we’ve done to make so many children’s hearts so hard, or what collectively we might do to right heir moral compass – what values we must live by. Instead I see us doing what we’ve always done – pretending that these children are somehow not our own.” Barack Obama
“There may not be any bad kids,…, but there sure are a lot of bad parents”
“The white man alone is like an ant,
He can be easily crushed.
But like an ant, the white man works together.
His nation, his business –
these things are more important to him than himself
Black men are not like this.
Even the most foolish black man
thinks he knows better than the wise man.
That is why the black man will always lose”