Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Its palpable. The traffic on Louis Botha is celebrating. Everyone is hooting. Its bigger than when SA won the Rugby World Cup. And if you're not South African you don't know how big that is!

Congratulations American voters, you did it. Doesn't it feel good to have a warm-blooded mammalian creature at the helm again? The rest of the world is very, very relieved.

My prayer now is that this energy and excitement can be harnessed. "Follow it through" my dear grandfather used to say, ad nauseum. Don't sit back and think your job is done. That all too human tendency to let others lead, make decisions for you and when they do bad you just shrug shoulders while saying "ag, that's politics" is what gives leaders permission to inch towards forgetfulness.

Make no mistake, we are as besotted with the man as you are. But we'd like to throw in our penny's worth. Or Rand's worth. (its cheaper that way). Hell, what's a blog for if its not for a bit of opinionated chirping from the wings? We can tell you a thing or two about politics in Africa, oh yes we can. And even though this election seemed more like American Idol than politics, still, we'd like to share.

We can tell you that Charisma is bewitching, heady, dizzy-making. We love it, we want to be close to it all the time. Its like falling on love. Your partner is so wonderful they can do no wrong. So be like the lover who needs her independence - hold your man accountable for his promises. Don't just give him carteblanche coz he's hot.

We can tell you that Change cannot be outsourced. It can be managed, sure, but you got to do the hard uncomfortable work yourself. You can hire someone to clean up your mess, but then its easy to just keep making the same mess again. Do it yourself, and you'll keep it clean.

And we can tell you that Your Neighbours are important. What other people think is important. I guess by now many of you have realised that the rest of the world has an opinion about the USA and not a very complimentary one. We care because you guys have what we would call a big footprint. The power to do good, yes. But also the power to be the big kid at the party who ate all the cake and slurped up all the juice and didn't leave any for the rest. Years ago, at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Joburg, there was a very cool Tshirt that I didn't manage to get my hands on. Black with luminous green font, worn by slim bands of protesters at traffic lights - "What shall we do about the United States?" read the tshirt. It was a question that had to be answered, but that was back in 2002, pre-Baghdad, pre the last 5 grinding years of hope erosion. Finally, it feels like maybe the United States can do something about themselves. We hope so. We will be watching this man with great interest. We want to share.

But look at me, I'm the one spoiling the party now, like a strict old teacher with sharp gary larson glasses.

I truly am very excited. It feels like a real chance.

Enjoy the celebrations, and keep riding that energy - the hard work begins now, I reckon. Yes, you truly can.


Angela said...

Tam, that was an excellent comment, and I`m proud of you! Can`t we elect you leader of South Africa?
Me too, I love the American people, and their enthusiasm and pride, but we Europeans also sometimes shake our heads about their ignorance (sorry, I`m spoiling, too). I once read a statement of an American journalist who said, "We Americans sometimes have a hard time realizing that there is a world outside the United States. And yet there is." True, my American friends. Don`t forget that you are a nation of immigrants. You come from Ireland and Italy, Germany and Poland, of Gambia and Kenya, of China and Mexico, and don`t forget your roots and your responsibility towards your old relatives. They are still there, hoping good from you, the children who dared to become something new. I found two matching poems about the Irish who left for America, one from W.B.Yeats where a mother mourns her son who left his home and her, and the other by Walt Whitman who says, "Do not mourn, your son is not dead, he has risen as someone new!"
Now we hope that America has risen again as something new!

tam said...

Thanks Angela. What I want to know is how many "cousins" in Africa Obama now has. How many distant connections will be unearthed!

I really wish him well, he has a staggering amount of work to do. I think if there's any caution in me, its just to say that he is not a messiah, he's just a person. The whole of east Africa thinks he's going to personally deliver each household a herd of goats or something. It ain't so. But its SO much better than what could have been.
Isn't ironic, that this would probably not have been possible without the Bush presidency? Now that puts things in perspective.

My word verification is polit. Haha. I would not like to be leader of this or any country. Minister of Culture or Environment - that I could work with. Maybe.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes dreams can evaporate leaving sadness and disappointment at their leaving. We've seen this happen, but in the spirit of the moment lets focus on the fact that hope has a chance here to flourish, bring change and deliver. Yes they can, but it will be hard.

Reya Mellicker said...

It's exactly what Obama said in his speech last night - that the work has just begun. He told us in no uncertain terms that we can't go back to the way things were - we have to stop being wasteful and stupid and greedy.

Among my family and friends, we're feeling enthused about rolling up our sleeves. I for one am not at all afraid of hard work, especially knowing that millions of Americans are now awake for the first time in decades, ready to do their part, too.

As Obama said, there will be setbacks and disappointments. But he has said all along that this election was not about him - it's about us.

Great advice! Thank you!!

Janelle said...

jirrah skattie you are only mos a guru from joeys, hey? ja no man, i'm not a racist hey, but jassis...remember in messina when...!?
wallering on. quite agree with you. and reya, yes, god you're inspirational. at this moment i think all americans are so motivated and empowered. this is so how its meant to be...are we euphoric enough to bravely think that there MIGHT be a model that actually works...? anyway. its WOW WOW WOW WHOOOOOPEEEEEEEEEE! righto. sleeves rolled and toodely pip. x j

ArtSparker said...

I think it's the quiet cautions that Obama has occasionally expressed that have struck me...there was something he said about"not doing evil when we mean to do good"-there's a level of self-awareness in that which is not typically American. Americans are very eager to congratulate themselves on their greatness. frequently when they haven't been making an especially good job of it. The hope is that as a people we can begin to do a little growing wasn't only George Bush that got drunk and wrecked the family car, metaphorically speaking.

Val said...

great post Tam! couldnt agree more.. have had my head in the sand for the past ten days.hmm - nearly missed this whole event - ooops x
hehe my word verification allifuls :-)

Indigo said...

Excellent material.. brilliance of your writing. I stumbled across your blog... glad I did.

Marina said...

Tammy, you are such a wise person. I love to read your thoughts and I'm truly grateful that you allow other people to share.

About your gluten intolerance - have you ever tried to do something about that intolerance?
I'm allergic to grain and I don’t enjoy unforeseen encounters with wheat! (So I spend hours reading labels, too. Besides, I’d like to avoid people feeling stressed when they want to invite me for dinner.) That’s why I went to an alternative practitioner a couple of weeks ago. He did some very interesting things (dissolving traumata) but, as opposed to his promise, couldn’t relieve me from my allergies. Too bad, he also told me he’d spared me Bechterew’s disease. But well, we’ll see.

tam said...

Artsparker and Reya I totally agree that it is all those exhortations that take the focus off him and onto the collective us/US are what makes him stand out as a true leader and not just a politician. What exciting times to be alive.
Rob - hope into action, that's exactly the conversion that's required.

Indigo - thanks for popping in, and for the kind words.

Marina dearest, how lovely to get such comments from a distant cousin! Re the gluten thing - I am ok if I do rye in tiny doses, I'm fine with maize and rice and adore quinoa and millet. Wheat is evil and I totally agree about the 'unforseen' encounters! Most unpleasant. When that happens I have some allergy stuff I can take that strengthens adrenals, but the last time i took it it kept me up all night!!
I did a big cleanse/fast a few weeks ago and that has helped my system enormously. What is Bechterew's?