19 January 2009

My President

Brenda FassieCover of Brenda FassieIt's been a whirlwind around the SoundRoots headquarters, what with today's celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the parties leading up to tomorrow's transfer of power in the US. So this will be brief, but oh so sweet.

Fifteen years ago the walls of apartheid crumbled in South Africa and black South African was elected president in that nation's first election that allowed all people to vote.

Forty-five years ago, the walls of "Jim Crow" laws crumbled in the United States. But only now are people seeing the result of that change at the highest levels. I don't need to tell you that there's still racism in the US. But this time around, a whole lot of Americans decided that skin color wasn't an obstacle to voting, and this has given a lot of us a new hope and faith in the future of the nation.

Barack Obama won't solve all our problems -- not in four years, not even in eight. But he represents a step in the right direction. I'm inspired by his positions on the environment, social inclusiveness, engagement in international negotiations, alternative energy, and many other issues. And I feel pride and some relief in his call for people to perform national service...after the Bush years when the highest form of national service was apparently to go shopping or send a child to war.

But Bush is done; we're focusing on the positive now. And despite the plethora of songs about Obama, I'm going to expropriate a tune from that other liberated nation, one that reaches something inexpressible and joyful in my spirit. A song of pride in one's president from the late Brenda Fassie.

[mp3] Brenda Fassie: Black President
from the album Black President (also found on the CD/DVD set Mandela)

Black President video

Happy inauguration day!
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