port of harlem magazine

March 7 - March 20, 2008


Gambians React to Obama’s Success

"The way Obama has scooped victories in state after state is amazing,” remarked Momodou Joof, Director General for the National Center for Arts and Culture in Banjul, The Gambia’s capitol city.  However, not all Gambians identify with Obama’s victories.  “I want to see a woman who will mother the American nation,” proclaimed University of the Gambia Professor Fodeh Baldeh.

However, the West Africans we spoke with are mainly looking for an Obama victory, but all do not  identify with Obama just because of his African ancestry. “I do not see him as a Black man.  I see him as a liberator of the people,” commented Barbacour Cessay, a journalist for the Gambia-based  pan-African Foroyaa newspaper.  (Foroyaa means freedom in Mandinka, the dominate ethnic group in The Gambia.)

“If Obama wins maybe Blacks will have more freedom and opportunities,” added Nyato Nursery school headmistress Elizabeth Sanko.  Up the Gambia River in Juffreh, Kunte Kinte’s hometown, Bakery Ngie was more confident.  The Kinte relative added, “If Barack Obama wins, Blacks will gain more freedom.”

Even European and American visitors in The Gambia thought Obama’s victory will signal that America is ready to play a more positive role in world affairs.  “You beat people just because you have a big stick,” commented Mageng Hassel-Flugh of Denmark at Port of Harlem’s Meet and Greet at Timbooktu Bookstore in the somewhat swanky suburb of Bakau-New Town.  Obama, he continued, “is a young man and has nice ideas.”

Peace Corp volunteer Dan Socha added that an Obama victory would mean that the U.S. would have more interest in African affairs.  The East Providence, RI native admitted that he did not vote in the primary but thinks “Obama would be good for Africa.”  Continued Joof, who is busy planning Banjul’s annual International Roots Festival, “It can change America’s relationship with the rest of the world.”

Next Stops:
Sa. March 8 - The State of Wyoming - A caucus state (an election method where he has done well) 1% Black
Tu. March  11- The State of Mississippi - A traditional primary state - 37% Black - the state with the highest percentage of Blacks

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