The National

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Nov. 6, 2008) - Historians, journalists and astrologists will be scouring through history vaults and the Internet for precedents, predictions, and similarities to put in perspective the momentous occasion yesterday when Barack Obama was elected the first black president of the United States of America.

They will, of course, come across the prediction by Robert Kennedy, brother of President John F Kennedy.

Kennedy predicted in 1968 in a radio broadcast on Radio America and relayed to over 60 nations that: "There’s no question that in the next 30or 40 years, a Negro can also achieve the same position that my brother has as president of the United States, certainly within that period of time."

It is exactly 40 years this year and this prediction appears to have been fulfilled.

Yet it is not prediction but promise that most commentators around the world will be settling on to describe Obama’s elevation.

Had an assassin’s bullet not killed him on April 4, 1968, civil rights activist extraordinaire, Dr. Matin Luther King would have lived to see his "dream" fulfilled yesterday.

King would have been only 79 years of age this year and would most probably have been at the side of Senator Barack Obama as he was declared president.

On Aug 28, 1963, King gave his famous "I have a dream" speech in the US capital, Washington, D.C.

King said he had a dream that one day "… the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood".

He dreamt of a time when the "heat of injustice … heat of oppression will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice".

He dreamt of a time when his four little children would "not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character".

It is not certain that America or indeed the world will ever be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice but Americans "judged" yesterday by the character, not the skin color, of Obama yesterday.

And by that judgment alone, American voters elevated, not just one man, but in the eyes of the world, their nation onto a new stage.

By that judgment, Americans have given hope to minorities everywhere that reaching the top is plausible and possible. It gives us in PNG hope and a good feeling in the gut -- almost as if it is a personal achievement.

There is something truly remarkable about how this son of an African immigrant rose from obscurity in four short years to the Olympian heights of the most powerful post in the world but he has done it with such terrific ease that in our minds it appears unremarkable.

We are all used to fairy tale and Obama’s rise to fame has that fairy tale flavor. Well before we performed disastrously at the bookmakers on Melbourne Cup day, all our money was on Obama.

"Of course, he will win," you heard everywhere.

We also like the way Obama did it.

There was no pretensions, no hype.

Obama’s history-making progress to the White House has been matter of factly, humane, intelligent and normal.

His victory is a victory for minorities everywhere but especially for black people of the world.

Whether he actually performs any differently from the other 43 white former presidents is quite another matter but for now, for many Papua New Guineans there will be American politics before and after Obama, with more interest and attention on "after".

That said, we are tempted to ask: Have we just witnessed an electorate that truly is color blind or is it one that is hell-bent on voting against a presidency that has made real the truism -- "violence begets violence".

Is this an electorate that is voting with its feet to get rid of the disastrous presidency of George W. Bush?

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