"... a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath."
It made me feel like dancing too.
Much of my interest in American politics evaporated as soon as Obama won the race to be President, but the man and his inauguration were always going to command my full attention.
Obama's speech was - as one would expect - pretty good:
"Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths..."
I highlighted 'curiosity' because, as soon as he mentioned it, it got me thinking: perhaps we lack this as Ghanaians. On the Super Morning Show this morning, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah asked what was the single most important value that would help Ghanaians today and while I heard all the usual suspects - love, tolerance, respect, blah, and blah - no one said 'curiousity'.
It's an interesting value for Obama to have mentioned and it really is one thing that sets the West quite apart from society here. They have relentless curiousity where we often have... well, complacency and acceptance. Fa ma Nyame.
"To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect..."
I hope so but I must admit to not getting my hopes up, as explained in this earlier post.
"To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."
Sounds like the son of an African just passed the peace pipe to the self-styled father of African resistance. Wonder if he will accept...
"To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it."
Damn right it has. It may not be the weightiest or most revelatory of books, but I hope that Obama has read and absorbed Fareed Zakaria's The Post-American World. He suggests that America stop being increasingly irrelevant and start trying to be an honest broker in international relations, which makes a lot of sense in our new day and age.
Overall, a great speech, a historic day and a beautiful evening. Wish I'd been in the States to celebrate with my friends there.
Hangovers this morning, anyone?
PS: Chris Rock once did a skit with someone being treated to extreme torture in the form of spoken word poetry with drums. While the drums were absent, I'm pretty sure Rock's eyes were twitching at Elizabeth Alexander's spoken word-influenced stylings. Now that would be some footage worth seeing.