Moments after Senator Barack Obama was elected in November 2004, he met with officials of the Chicago-based United African Organization (UAO) to thank them for their overwhelming support at the polls. He also shared his vision in the Senate and how he wanted to collaborate with them to move the African community forward.
“Let me know the issues Africans face specifically in this country,” he told UAO officials and charged them to relay concerns that are unique to the African community instead of reiterating general trepidations like health insurance reform, low paying jobs, quality of education and employment.
It was the first meeting with any group among the various Illinois nay Chicago groups that catapulted him to the exalted position as the lone Black face in the senate.
More than a year and half after the meeting, the communication lines appear to have been frozen. The UAO transition committee that met Obama is far-gone. The Kenya- fathered Senator has metamorphosized from a junior senator to a potential first Black US president.
He now moves from coast to coast either helping colleagues to raise political funds or dinning with the likes of the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffet and other supporters backing him financially to occupy the White House.
Despite all that, he hasn’t forgotten his base. He stills comes down to meet Black ministers at the most unpresidential place to dialogue on how to turn around the fortunes of their worshippers with the offerings they take instead of waiting for manna to fall from City Hall, Springfield or Washington.
Except for the African immigrants who still “live in the exaggerated expectation about his election that the Messiah has finally come and that the streets of Kenya would be tarred and new cars and refrigerators would be distributed across Kenya where his father was born”, things are steadily falling into shape for the rising star.
Who do we blame for the lapse? Certainly not the rising star. The on-going immigration bill being reconciled by the two houses has come and gone without the junior senator getting inputs from the African community.
Yet, thousands of African immigrants are as stranded as Mexican protesters across the nation. The Darfur genocide continues to escalate without the Illinois junior Senator being bombarded with inputs on how to draw it to the radar screen of President Bush and Americans.
On August 18th, Senator Obama traveled to some of the trouble spots in Africa including Kenya where his father was born. Why he chose those hotbed nations were unknown to many Africans across Chicagoland and native of these countries.
Even the cohesion his election forced on the natives of 54 African countries across the Windy City is now shaky. It’s as if the tribal hatred that fractionalized the various empires is rising to the boiling point even at the election of a minority as the headmaster.
Time is running out and it’s better to establish and nurture a bond with Obama before his position in office makes that more difficult.