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.