In exactly eight days from today, the world will watch as US President Barack Obama hands over power to President-elect, Donald Trump. Even though the world looks on with divided opinions as to what the future holds for America and its foreign relationships, one can’t help but look back with admiration for this man who came to Chicago in his twenties and went on to become the world’s greatest and most admired president ever. His ascension to power resonates to the power of positivism, the power of a dream and most especially the power of a support system like none other. Whether they played to the cameras, or they were the world’s most genuine partnership in the history of our time, you cannot help but admire the grace, class, elegance and poise with which both Michelle and Barack Obama exuded and carried on in their 8 years in the white house.
In his tears inducing speech as he addressed American’s for the very last time as the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama’s words were laced with vital lessons every young person should learn about change, dedication to change and the power of diversity in unity.
1. The power of family and a support system; in his words of admiration to Michelle, and both his daughters, Malia and Sasha, you understand the importance of the sacrifices they made in 8 years to ensure an almost scandal free tenure. Also recognizing his wife Michelle in the beginning of his speech, like he has always done in the last few years:
“Michelle LaVaughn Robinson of the South Side…
… for the past 25 years you have not only been my wife and mother of my children, you have been my best friend.
You took on a role you didn’t ask for. And you made it your own with grace and with grit and with style, and good humour.
You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody.
And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model.
You have made me proud, and you have made the country proud.”
2. Understanding the power of a people and collective responsibility.
3. The power of purpose and faith, especially achieving so much in a town he came to in his twenties with little inclination as to how far he would go-
“So I first came to Chicago when I was in my early twenties, and I was still trying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life. And it was a neighborhood not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills.
It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss.”
4. The force and power of ordinary people getting involved, getting engaged and coming together to demand for the change they deserve
6. We must learn from the past in order to commit to our capacity to change and better
7. Potential will only work if our democracy reflects the decency of our people – regardless of party affiliations or particular interest, our decency as a people will help restore the sense of the common purpose that we so badly need right now
8. Understanding that democracy does not require uniformity of thoughts and ideas. We are allowed to argue, quarrel and eventually compromise. Understanding that democracy requires a sense of solidarity and despite our tribes, appearances and backgrounds, we are all in it together, we rise together as one or fall as one too.
As I read through the transcripts of his farewell speech once again, thoughts of Nigeria and Africa comes flooding, how can we be better? How can we move forward despite all the problems besetting us? We have been asking the same questions for decades and decades now, and it is high time we start to answer our own questions. It’s time to start being collectively responsible for us as a nation and a people; you have to work for it to work out collectively. Play your part, be responsible and use your channels of reach positively. After all, it is said that a people get the leadership they deserve.