Thursday, November 6, 2008

My Father's Eyes

My father always loved debates.

He spoke with a stutter so he was not what you would consider an eloquent speaker or debater but he had a way of putting his points across so clearly such that unless you have superior arguments, you don't dispute his views. Back then, he usually has his friends come in for drinks usually at the weekends. He was not much of a drinker himself, but he always enjoyed the company.

Growing up, whenever I was home from boarding school or university, I was privileged to observe and later, to be part of these gatherings. These men were mainly UK trained and the gatherings could be as large as eight to ten men or as few as three. And you know what happens when men gather with drinks; they talk. They talked about women, sports and politics. What else do men talk about?

From these men I learned about history, particularly Nigerian history of which they were a part at one point or the other. Of course, I also learned about women. They were that experienced.

I remember one day, twenty years ago, in 1988, I think it was July/August. As a university student by then, I was allowed to make contributions to discussions once in a while. This time was during the presidential primaries of the US Democratic party and it was significant because a black American, the Rev. Jesse Jackson was a front runner in that race.

The debate was along the lines of the prospects of a black American winning the nomination of his party on one hand and then going on to win the Presidency of the United States of America. As with most African students back then, the candidacy of Jesse Jackson was an inspiration and we believed that he could go on to win the Presidency. I was the sole proponent of that position in that debate.

I remember my father saying that the chances of a black man becoming the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was brighter than that of a black man becoming the President of the United States. To him, the UK society was more racially integrated than that of the US and that the Americans were 'racists' while the Brits were 'racial'. In his words, the Brits would still tolerate a good man (black or white) as PM, but the Americans just plain 'hated' the black man.

By some alcohol-induced prophetic ability, they arrived at the magical figure of a minimum of 300 years after the death of Abraham Lincoln, who somehow was the most significant index for a black man to ascend the presidency of the US according to them. By 1988, that meant another 175 more years.

He was wrong. They were ALL wrong!

Just twenty years later, Barrack Hussein Obama, a black man IS elected to be the 44th President of the United States of America!

I wish my father were alive to witness today. Maybe he would have shed a tear or two. Maybe he would have bawled. Maybe he would have just looked on incredulously because you see, a black man is yet to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom!

He would have been 72 years old today (11/6). He would have popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate. He would have graciously conceded he was wrong and while it would not have dampened our celebrations, I am sure he would probably have looked for a reason why his prediction failed.

Of course, I would still have done my Obama Victory Dance in his face.


NoLimit said...

Am sure he's smiling down at you...may his soul R.I.P
Reading this made me think of Martin Luther King...I hope he's smiling too...

Queen of My Castle said...

This post made me smile for various reason, and not just because I am an American.

bumight said...

Jesse Jackson really stood no chance, I'm sure your father would have been proud at this moment. may his soul RIP.

PS: i really do enjoy picking age clues from u and naapali's posts. a university student 20 years ago...hmn..

Naapali said...

- wow, it has been a year since your last in memoriam post. A lot has happened for you since then not least the birth of your son. I am sure your father would have found many reasons for champagne popping.

@ Bumight
- yes NIMMO and I were both in University 20 years ago. Perhaps one of us was an 11 year old genius and the other one an elderly teacher returning for a degree. Who knows?

Emeka Amakeze said...

They were all wrong because our projections and speculations as humans are mostly guided by our emotions and sentiments. The dynamics of life will always make us say words like "this is unbelievable", "i can't believe this" and i know it is the case with Obama's victory.

guerreiranigeriana said...

...beautiful post and small insight about the man you called father/daddy/papa/etc and celebration of obama's victory...loved the way you weaved this...may his soul continue to rest in perfect peace...

N.I.M.M.O said...

@NoLimit: Many thanx for your comments.
@QoMC: Hmmm, Please do share Queenie.
@Bumight: He won 11 states and 3 or 4 caucuses. Looking back now, he really stood no chance but then we had the right to dream didn't we? As for age clues, read Naapali below. Back then, you either enter the university very young or very old. LOL!
@Naapali: Sure he would have. There's been a lot to give thanx for. Many thanx for your comment.
@Emeka: Very true talk there. Sometimes alcohol helps us to exaggerate our emotions when making the predictions. LOL. Many thanx for your comments.
@GNaija: Good to see you're back doing your blog rounds again. How you dey? Many thanx for your comment.

Shubby Doo said...

in the present… we must always remember that… we stand on the shoulders of giants…of the past…I am so happy Obama got in…it means that the giants were bigger and stronger than we realised!

i think your father still would have smiled…laughed even…because he’d have been secretly pleased to see you do the victory dance about such a thing!

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