November 5th, 2008

Nang’o! Erokamano. Nyasaye ogwedhi.

From the Dholuo:

Hi! Thank you. God bless you.

It seems appropriate. Though I’ve no reason to think the half-Luo, and 100% American, just triumphantly elected President of the USA speaks a word of his ancestral tribal language.

His surviving grandmother Sarah proudly shows off to visiting journalists an autographed poster from Obama’s Illinois state Senate campaign. The message reads:

Mama Sarah: Habari! And Love.

Habari isn’t a Luo word but Swahili for “hello.” The Swahili language is a coastal creole (like English) spread as a lingua franca throughout vast areas of east Africa by slavers, traders, missionaries and colonial officials. Swahili phrasebooks can be picked up at the airport; for Dholuo you’d need a specialised bookshop to advance beyond Googled fragments.

Barack Obama’s election is cause for rejoicing worldwide. I don’t expect to agree with all his future policies and initiatives to restore American “leadership” (a good start would be listening). But he is certain to be a huge improvement over GW Bush, and has the potential for greatness. The scale and manner of the victory his electors have won him will bind the temperamentally centrist President to his liberal promises.

Like other foreigners I couldn’t lawfully contribute money to his campaign, just more or less helpful criticisms and enjoyable turns at Palin- and Bush-bashing. So I’m giving my winnings from my North Carolina flutter (all of $640) to the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims.

There will be many more and bigger payoffs like this.

PS: the North Carolina result hasn’t been declared at the time of posting. But Obama has a clear if narrow lead of 11,000 with all results in except the provisional ballots; and these are likely to be solidly pro-Obama students, blacks, and first-time young voters, the despised riff-raff of his invincible new army.

Grovel update

Turns out I misunderstood the Intrade system so bet and won much less than I’d thought (in contrast to million-dollar-salary Wall Streeters who bet and lost much more than they thought). But promises are promises, the IRCT has been sent the money, and it’s still down to the election.

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