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Africans express cautious hope for Obama presidency

(GIN) – After the initial moment of euphoria for the landslide victory of Barack Obama, some Africans are now expressing a more cautious note of hope for the new leader.

”Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East conflict, Pakistan and India is where the focus of U.S. policy is going to be,” said Francis Kornegay of Johannesburg’s Institute for Policy Studies. ”So there is no realistic prospect that Africa will overtake any of those concerns. On the other hand there are some pressing security concerns on the continent.”

For some, the possibilities are endless.

”Obama has brought a big hope and has changed a lot of things for a lot of people in terms of how they view themselves,” said professor Veronique Tadjo of Johannesburg’s Witwatersrand University.

“A Black man becoming the most powerful man on the planet is something very important,” she said.

Whatever the policy goals, observed Senegalese analyst Lamine Savane, a new style of leadership is needed.

”The way the world is today, the bully thing does not work anymore,” said Savane.

”It will be a hard presidency, and from both sides,” said Prof. Tadjo. ”From the White side people waiting for him to fail, and from the Black side because people have always looked at mixed-race people with a bit of suspicion, who are they, who do they represent? So he is going to have a tough job.”

February 2, 2009
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