By SHARON COHEN
2008, Jan 5: Ray Ballentine was waiting for a sign to throw hissupport to BarackObama. And when Obama coasted to victory in Iowa's caucuses, there itwas - evidence that the senator had the broad racial appeal to get tothe White House."I did have some reservations before, but hecertainly got my vote now," Ballentine said, eating a brisket androast turkey salad with hush puppies at The Q Shack, a barbecue jointin Raleigh, N.C. "I was sort of undecided, but I feel like he can winthe presidency."
Obama's convincing win in Thursday's caucuses in Iowa - a statewith just a smattering of minority voters - demonstrated the Illinoissenator's support crosses racial lines and bolstered the notion thatAmerica is receptive to electing its first black president. WhetherObama's appeal stretches beyond the farm fields of Iowa will becomeclear over the next month as the freshman senator faces a series oftests on different political terrain - beginning with Tuesday'sprimary in New Hampshire, another overwhelmingly white state.
But for Ballentine, who had been wavering between Sen. HillaryRodham Clinton and Obama, Iowa was a tipping point. Like many blackvoters, he says, he was looking for proof that Obama could garnerwhite support. Yet he wonders if the rest of the nation is as willingas Iowa to embrace the idea of a black president. "I'm not reallysure if they're ready, you know," he said. "I think it's time. He'sspeaking about change, and certainly that would be a change for thiscountry. A change for the world."
Polls have indicated the vast majority of Americans say they wouldsupport a black candidate seeking the White House. A Gallup surveyconducted in early 2007 found only 6 percent of men and 5 percent ofwomen said they would not vote for a black presidential candidate - aseismic political shift from 50 years ago when more than half thosesurveyed felt that way.
Though Obama's win captured headlines and gave his campaign freshcredibility, he is not the first black candidate to triumph in aDemocratic presidential contest.
In 1988, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, making his second bidfor the White House, piled up Democratic primary wins in Alabama,Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia and the District ofColumbia along with caucus victories in South Carolina and Michigan.But Obama's roots and resume - as well as his campaign - are unlikeother black candidates who've run for president. The son of a fatherfrom Kenya and a mother from Kansas, Obama was just a child duringthe dawn of the civil rights movement, grew up in Hawaii andIndonesia and has not made race the centerpiece of his candidacy.
"Obama is running in a way that a lot of white voters feel verysympathetic," said Merle Black, an Emory University politicalscientist. "He doesn't make them feel guilty. He's not running aJesse Jackson campaign or an Al Sharpton campaign. He's positionedhimself to be a candidate who happens to be black, rather than ablack candidate."
In a far different way, the Republicans have their ownpresidential candidate with an unusual back story: Mike Huckabee, whowon the GOP caucuses in Iowa with heavy support from Christianevangelicals, is an ordained Baptist preacher. But it's Huckabee'syears as an Arkansas governor, not his time in the pulpit that havetaken him this far, said David Bositis, an analyst at the JointCenter for Political and Economic Studies, a black think tank. "If hehad been a minister and never a governor, especially a governor whowas re-elected ... he wouldn't be in this situation," he says.
For some voters watching Obama, his campaign - and his Iowasuccess - are simply reflections of changing times. "America'sbecoming more open-minded," said Mark Jambretz, a 36-year-old salesdirector at an Internet company in San Francisco. "I as a Republicancan say that, and we need to open our eyes to people representing allethnicities."
Still, he said he could envision some "radical groups" takingviolent steps against a black candidate or president.
That also worries Ballentine, the 53-year-old North Carolinaelectric utility field technician. "I think he will certainly need tobeef up his security, because I think there's these wackos that willgo to any extent to make sure he doesn't win," he said. "It's sad tosay that, but I think it's a possibility. Some people just don't wantto see that happen."
Obama received Secret Service protection last spring - theearliest ever for any presidential candidate. He acknowledged at thetime that some of the threats against him were raciallymotivated.
Some voters, though, say Obama's race may not even be that much ofa factor in his campaign. "I think that America wants a lot ofchange. I don't necessarily know if it matters that he's black or not- just that they want something different," said John Beckner, whilewaiting for a table with his daughters outside Matt's Big Breakfast,a diner in the shadow of downtown Phoenix.
Beckner, a 34-year-old systems engineer who is white and marriedto a black woman, said he knows not all Americans will be able tolook beyond Obama's race. "I'm sure he's going to alienate somepeople that just aren't ready for that, or think he has specialinterests or a minority agenda," he said. "... But the thirst forchange is so strong ... that would probably be enough to get himelected."
Standing nearby with her husband and son, Nancy Bergkamp said it'sexperience that counts and Obama doesn't have it. "He's out there,`Oh yeah, let's change, let's do something different and all that.'But I think he's kind of a flash in the pan at this point. I thinkhe's very unproven," said Bergkamp, 51, a registered Republican. "Thefact that he's black is somewhat of an afterthought. Maybe I'm naive,but I would like to think we're beyond that."
Maxine Siegler, a 54-year-old flight attendant from Miami, alsosaid while Obama's victory is a good sign that the nation is ready toelect a black president, "I don't think this particularAfrican-American is up for the job. I think we have a mess, somebodyhas got to fix it but I don't think he's the right person."
Collette Lease, 32, an education assistant from Minneapolis, hasreservations, too. While she said she's excited a black candidate hasthe chance to take the White House, she's not sold on Obama. "Hegives a great speech, but just because you can give a great speechdoesn't mean you can run the country," she said. Others, though, sayObama's candidacy is groundbreaking and a sign that America ischanging - even in the South. "We can all go back to our historybooks and a couple of years ago something like this would never havehappened," said JaQuinda Harkness, a 20-year-old College ofCharleston student strolling during lunch hour in the South Carolinacity's historic district. "For this to be happening this year, thiscentury and for me to living in it is amazing."
Sivi Bobbitt, a 35-year-old graduate student at Clark AtlantaUniversity, is enthused too and believes Obama "wants the country tobe the melting pot it's supposed to be." She also thinks Obama'sbiracial background may make him more palatable to white voters -especially younger ones who tend to be more open-minded. "How oursociety is now, the younger generation doesn't see color anymore,"she said. "It's not a white thing. It's not a black thing. We don'tthink like that anymore." Ms. Cohen is a staff writer for TheAssociated Press.
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INSIGHT: Why America should halt the genocide in the Sudan. By Chido Nwangwu, Founder and Publisher of USAfricaonline.com.
s official! In 2009 and 2010 the world will be treated to a spectacular soccer experience in Africa, as FIFA announced Egypt and Nigeria would host world cup youth soccer tournaments in 2009. FIFA's Executive Committee has agreed that in 2009, Egypt would host the FIFA under 20 World Cup and that Nigeria would host the FIFA under 17 World Cup.
The Nigerian government has already submitted the necessary guarantees to FIFA, assuring that it can host a successful event."With South Africa hosting the FIFA Confederations Cup in the same year, it promises to be a busy one for the African continent, but also an extremely exciting one," the world football governing body said on its website.
Both Nigeria and Egypt have hosted FIFA junior events in the past. In 1997 Egypt hosted the U-17 World Cup, with Brazil, inspired by a young Ronaldinho emerging as the winners. Nigeria hosted the U-20 event two years later. This time Spain took the laurels, with many of the stars of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany on display, including Esteban Cambiasso, Rafael Marquez, Xavi and the irrepressible Ronaldinho.
In 2010, South Africa will host the biggest soccer event of them all, the 2010 FIFA World Cup, set to take place at ten stadia in nine cities across the country.
DEMOCRACY WATCH: What Bush Should Tell Obasanjo.... By Chido Nwangwu (Founder and Publisher of USAfricaonline.com)
FLASHPOINT! In 15 years: Nigeria could collapse, destabilize entire West Africa - U.S. intelligence analysts claim; Obasanjo calls them "prophets of doom...."
VIEWPOINT: Obasanjo, Go! Just go! Prof. Wole Soyinka
Why Bush should focus on dangers facing Nigeria's return to democracy and Obasanjo's slipperyslide. By Chido Nwangwu
INSIGHT: Destruction of property and human massacres are always traumatic events in a community, saddening and enraging, but the organizers of the beauty contest, as well as the participants, must understand that they are totally free of guilt. The guilty are the storm troopers of intolerance, the manipulators of feeble-minded but murderous hordes of fanaticism. By Prof. Wole Soyinka
Should Africa debates begin and end at The New York Times and The Washington Post? No
AFRICA AND THE U.S. ELECTIONS Beyond U.S. electoral shenanigans, rewards and dynamics of a democratic republic hold lessons for African politics.
Osama bin-Laden's goons threaten Nigeria and Africa's stability
What has Africa to do with September 11 terror?
Africans reported dead in terrorist attack at WTC
September 11 terror and the ghost of things to come....
Arafat's duplicity, terrorism at the heart of Israeli-Palestinian crises. By Barry Rubin
Will religious conflicts be the time-bomb for Nigeria's latest transition to civilian rule?
Johnnie Cochran will soon learn that defending Abacha's loot is not as simple as his O.J Simpson's case. By Chido Nwangwu
Should Africa debates begin and end at The New York Times and The Washington Post? No
Nelson Mandela, Tribute to the world's political superstar and Lion of Africa
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's burden mounts with murder charges, trials
Conflicting emotions, feeling of disappointment, timing of revelation that Rev. Jackson fathered a child with former aide lead to charges of "right-wing orchestration."
Nigeria's Presidential Election: Is it just for the Highest Bidder?
Nigeria at 40: punish financial thuggery, build domestic infrastructure
Is Obasanjo really up to Nigeria's challenge and crises? By USAfricaonline.com contributing editor Ken Okorie. Commentary appears from NigeriaCentral.com
Africa suffers the scourge of the virus. This life and pain of Kgomotso Mahlangu, a five-month-old AIDS patient (left) in a hospital in the Kalafong township near Pretoria, South Africa, on October 26, 1999, brings a certain, frightening reality to the sweeping and devastating destruction of human beings who form the core of any definition of a country's future, its national security, actual and potential economic development and internal markets.
22 million Africans HIV-infected, ill with AIDS while African leaders ignore disaster-in-waiting
Wong is wrong on Blacks in Houston city jobs
Why is 4-year old Onyedika carrying a placard against killings in Nigeria?
How Nigeria's Islamic Sharia crises will affect the U.S.
USAfrica INTERVIEW "Why African Catholics are concerned about crises, sex abuse issues in our church" - a frank chat with ICCO's Mike Umeorah
Johnnie Cochran will soon learn that defending Abacha's loot is not as simple as his O.J Simpson's case. By Chido Nwangwu The Economics of Elections in Nigeria
HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY How far, how deep will Nigeria's human rights commission go?
Rtd. Gen. Babangida trip as emissary for Nigeria's Obasanjo to Sudan raises curiosity, questions about what next in power play?
COUNTERPOINT 'Why is Bill Maher spreading racist nonsense about HIV/AIDS and Africa on ABC?
Hate groups' spin by Lamar Alexander benefits anti-Blacks, anti-Semites, and racists
Annan, power and burden of the U.N
The Civilianizing of African soldiers into Presidents
At 39, Nigerians still face dishonest stereotypes such as Buckley's, and other self-inflicted wounds.
JFK Jr.: Death of a Good Son
'Why is Bill Maher spreading racist nonsense about HIV/AIDS and Africa on ABC?
National Summit on Africa, Congresswoman Jackson-Lee hold policy forum in Houston
'100 Black Men are solutions-oriented' says Thomas Dortch, Jr., Richard Johnson and Nick Clayton II as they share perspectives with USAfrica's founder on the national organization.
Community Service Awards bring African-American, American policy and business leaders together with African community at Texas Southern University
110 minutes with Hakeem Olajuwon
Cheryl Mills' first class defense of Clinton and her detractors' game
Nigeria, Cry My Beloved Country
Will the rash of Ethnic Violence disrupt Nigeria's effort at Democracy?
IN THE HOUSE OF MANDELA: A SILLY CRY FOR REPARATIONS By Prof. Chimalum Nwankwo
Nigerian stabbed to death in his bathroom in Houston.
EndGame in Kinshasa: U.S must boot Mobutu for own interest, future of Zaire and Africa
PetroGasWorks Shell picks Leslie Mays as VP Global Diversity
Why Powell's mission to the Middle East failed. By Jonathan Elendu
General Tunde Idiagbon: A nationalist, an iron-surgeon departs
Abiola's sudden death and the ghost of things to come
Gen. Shehu Musa Yar'Adua's prison death, Nigeria and The Ghost of Things to come .....
NEWS: OBASANJO'S FAILED 3RD TERM POWER-PLAY IS GOOD NEWS TO NIGERIANS, ABROAD AND HOME.... USAfricaonline.com and its correspondents in Nigeria and across the major cities of the U.S are reporting an increasing tally of anti-3rd term phone calls and e-mails from our readers. By a margin of almost 7-2, USAfricaonline.com data show that an overwhelming majority of the politically active citizenry are happy that Nigeria's Senate halted retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo's stealthy, unpopular, behind-the-scenes-wink and nod power plays to secure an "unrequested" 3rd term as president of Nigeria (a total of 12 consecutive years).
Many Nigerians still feel disappointed that a man (Obasanjo) who had gained so much from Nigeria would cling so tightly to power, even against the popular will of the people, moreso with age, energy and fresh ideas for a new era not on his side.
More baffling many Nigerians we interviewed recall are the lessons of the excesses of the late Gen. Abach who jailed Obasanjo while the former schemed to remain in power.
How Obasanjo's self-succession charade at his Ota Farm has turned Nigeria to an 'Animal Farm.' By Prof. Mobolaji Aluko
Is Obasanjo ordained by God to rule Nigeria? And, other fallacies. By Prof. Sola Adeyeye
Obasanjo was not sworn in merely to "mean well" for Nigeria. By Obi Nwakanma
Obasanjo's 'prayers' and the Abacha path of staying in power. By Nkem Ekeopara
Creative writing, publishing and the future of Nigerian Literature. By Prof. Chukwuemeka Ike
Anambra's rigged 2003 elections: Chris Uba's confession at WIC 2004 in Newark, USA. In a matter-of-fact manner, PDP's chieftain in Anambra Chris Uba stood up and astonished all that were present in Newark when he said, "We, the PDP, did not win the election (of 2003). I have gone to church to confess. The election had no document. I called the result before 12 midnight. I gave INEC the money and asked them to call the result." The revelation caused an uproar as well as some applause in the hall. "The person we took his thing is here," Uba said, pointing at Peter Obi (the APGA candidate) who was sitting among the audience, in the back row.
USAfrica The Newspaper voted the "Best Community Newspaper" in the 4th largest city in the U.S., Houston. It is in the Best of Houston special as chosen by the editors and readers of the Houston Press, reflecting their poll and annual rankings.
DEMOCRACY WATCH: Obasanjo raped Nigeria's constitution by suspending Plateau Assembly and Governor. Prof. By Prof. Ben Nwabueze, leading constitutional scholar in the Commonwealth for almost 45 years, former Nigerian federal minister and SAN.
OIL in NIGERIA: Liquid Gold or Petro-Dollars Curse?
Investigating Marc Rich and his deals with Nigeria's Oil
Through an elaborate network of carrots and sticks and a willing army of Nigeria's soldiers and some civilians, controversial global dealer and billionaire Marc Rich, literally and practically, made deals and steals; yes, laughed his way to the banks from crude oil contracts, unpaid millions in oil royalties and false declarations of quantities of crude lifted and exported from Nigeria for almost 25 years. Worse, he lifted Nigeria's oil and shipped same to then embargoed apartheid regime in South Africa. Read Chido Nwangwu's NEWS INVESTIGATION REPORT for PetroGasWorks.com
Should Africa debates begin and end at The New York Times and The Washington Post?
Nelson Mandela, Tribute to the world's political superstar and Lion of Africa
Nnamdi Azikiwe: Statesman, Intellectual and Titan of African politics
Bush's position on Africa is "ill-advised." The position stated by Republican presidential aspirant and Governor of Texas, George Bush where he said that "Africa will not be an area of priority" in his presidency has been questioned by USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu. He added that Bush's "pre-election position was neither validated by the economic exchanges nor geo-strategic interests of our two continents." These views were stated during an interview CNN's anchor Bernard Shaw and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield had with Mr. Nwangwu on Saturday November 18, 2000 during a special edition of 'Inside Politics 2000.' Nwangwu, adviser to the Mayor of Houston (the 4th largest city in the U.S., and immigrant home to thousands of Africans) argued further that "the issues of the heritage interests of 35 million African-Americans in Africa, the volume and value of oil business between between the U.S and Nigeria and the horrendous AIDS crisis in Africa do not lend any basis for Governor Bush's ill-advised position which removes Africa from fair consideration" were he to be elected president. By Al Johnson
The Life and Irreverent times of Afrobeat superstar, FELA
Reuben Abati's fallacies on Nigeria's history and secession. By Bayo Arowolaju
How Abati, Adelaja and others fuel the campaign of hatred against Ndigbo. By Jonas Okwara
"Obasanjo, secession and the secessionists": A response to Reuben Abati's Igbophobia. By Josh Arinze, USAfricaonline.com contributing editor.
Abati and other anti-Igbo bigots in Nigeria. By Chuks Iloegbunam, USAfricaonline.com contributing editor and author of Ironsi
CNN International debate on Nigeria's democracy was livecast on February 19, 2002. It involved Nigeria's Information Minister Prof. Jerry Gana, Prof. Salih Booker and USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu. Transcripts are available on the CNN International site.
WILL ARINZE BE THE FIRST POPE of RECENT AFRICAN ORIGIN? To our Brother Cardinal Arinze: May your pastoral lineage endure!
The Democratic Party stood for nothing in 2002 election cycle. By Jonathan Elendu
EVA champions efforts to combat AIDS among Nigerian youth. By Jessica Rubin
Pros and cons of the circumcision debate. By Ngozi Ezeji, RN
Prof. Chimere Ikoku: Remembering the legacy of a pan-Africanist, scientist and gentleman. By Prof. Chudi Uwazurike
Can Africa live a future without war? An Open Letter to Mandela. By Fubara David-West, USAfricaonline.com contributing editor
Tiger Woods is no Nelson Mandela! By Chido Nwangwu
SPORTS: Tiger Woods makes more history with another golf Masters win. He shot 12-under-par 276 and a final round 71 at Georgia's Augusta National Golf Club event and collected $1,008,000, on Sunday April 14, 2002. With it, the world's golf phenom added another green jacket to his array of championships and titles, placing him, in this instance, in the same respected Masters' league as Nicklaus (winner 1965 and 1966) and Nick Faldo (1989 and 1990). The three are the only men to win back-to-back Masters. At 26, Woods has since become the youngest golfer to win his seventh professional major championship. He was joined by his parents and his 22 year-old Swedish model girlfriend, Elin Nordegren.
Impeachment process shows Nigerian democracy "is alive... being tested." Nigeria's president retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo has said that the impeachment process shows that "democracy is alive, is being tested, and being tried.... What they (the legislators) have tried to do in the democratic way, which is not easy, would probably have been done by taking arms or by -- with bullets. So, but with democracy, of course, some people feel that this is the way this should be, and then I have an opportunity to defend myself. There is discussion. There is dialogue. There is a decision. There is fairness." He made these comments when he appeared on Tuesday September 17, 2002 on CNN International to discuss the issues of impeachment facing him, the allegations of corruption, abuse of the constitution and deployment of soldiers ina civilian environment which led to the "massacre of civilians" in Odi (Bayelsa) and Zaki Biam (Benue). On the charges by international human rights organizations and Nigerian media that his government has been involved in actions which have led to the deaths of thousands of Nigerians, the retired General gave a surprising answer. He was asked that "as many as 10,000 people, it's being reported, have been killed in Nigeria (in) communal rivalries, and the number is believed to be increasing. And people are saying that although President Obasanjo has done a lot of good for Nigeria, you're accused of not -- accused of failing to halt that spiraling violence."
Obasanjo: Let me say this to you, when you put the question of 10,000 -- 10,000 people dying in Nigeria, of course, for a population of over 120 million people...." But USAfricaonline.com Founder and recipient of the Journalism Excellence award (1997), Chido Nwangwu, who appeared on the same program as as a CNN International analyst (Africa) pointed out that "when (President Obasanjo) answered that in a country of 100 million that 10,000 people are said to have died, as if that was a small number, that in itself reflects a disconnect with the concerns of Nigerians. The second one is that when the risk is civil disagreement, the police are required to intervene in the country. And the deployment of the armed forces of Nigeria requires at least some consultation, however modest, with the parliament." Nwangwu, former member of the editorial board of Nigeria's Daily Times continued that "the third factor that is equally important to underscore is that the armed forces of Nigeria moved in for a punitive action rather than just containing a civil disagreement." He noted in USAfricaonline.com backgrounder "it was revealing and interesting interesting discussing Nigeria's issues with its leader - under the current circumstances of an increasingly out-of-schedule elections and the gathering storm of an impeachment process by a majority of the members of the National Assembly, predominantly by Obasanjo's party members." See rush transcript of the CNN International news program.
Steve Jobs and Apple represent the future of digital living. By Chido Nwangwu
The coup in Cote d'Ivoire and its implications for democracy in Africa. By Chido Nwangwu
(Related commentary) Coup in Cote d'Ivoire has been in the waiting. By Tom Kamara