By Ekerete Udoh
The political world is abuzz with the spectacular delivery of First Lady-Michelle Obama’s speech yesterday –September 4th, 2012 at the opening night of the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina and comparisons are quickly being drawn from the one delivered last week by Ann Romney-the wife of the Republican nominee-Mitt Romney.
Before I go into drawing those distinctions, let me first make a few observations. The Democratic Convention truly showed the face of America-a mosaic of colors, of background and nationalities all drawn and enveloped by the immutable pull of the American dream. It was a celebration of the ‘can-do’ spirit and a belief that though we may have different circumstances of birth and pedigree; though we may have spoken different languages and be conditioned and socialized in different cultural settings, we are today immersed in the all-consuming American mores and abiding ethos of hard work, of opportunity and the innate belief that if you are determined to work hard, take some risks and disavow abhorrent tendencies, the American dream can be yours, and once the dream has been achieved, you don’t slam shut the door against others, but rather keep the door wide open for others to have an unfettered access. That was the American creed that was on full display on Tuesday night.
In place of the Republican Convention last week in Tampa, Florida where there was a concerted effort to lie, to obfuscate, to distort and to employ sly and racially coded phrases that the faithful would easily deconstruct and spread through a whispering campaign; where the speakers invoked the worst fears of the American electorate-fears that were at most manufactured and at best disingenuous aimed at casting doubt about the capacity of President Obama to fulfill Americans hopes and aspirations; where speakers attempted to define President Obama as the ‘other’- an accident who happened upon the hallowed spaces of the White House and who as some fringe elements within its ranks are fond of saying “must be sent back to Kenya from where he came”, the Democratic convention –from the background and the ambience at the podium to its numerous speakers all projected a sunny disposition about the American enterprise.
While the Republican catechism of tax cuts and less regulation and the much beaten bogeyman of ‘big government’ are aimed at lining up the already deep pockets of fat cats- the so –called job creators who are anything but, and to deny the average American of social safety net, by cutting those programs that have helped advanced American journey to social and economic mobility were on full display at the Tampa convention, the Democratic Convention on the other hand, while applauding American success, did not advocate policies that would step on the back of the middle class-they, on the other hand, see and regard the middle class as the engine of upward mobility. The Democratic convention trumpeted those ideals and little wonder that a day after, the political dynamics seems to have shifted dramatically in favor of the Democrats. Watching some of the Republican pundits and apologists struggling to look for areas to demonize Michele Obama’s speech, ludicrously grasping at the straws by trying to accuse the Democrats of taking out “God” from their Platform as if the Republicans have the monopoly on godliness was laughable at best-same with their attempt to cast the Democrats as not being rock-solid in their support for the state of Israel since Jerusalem was removed as the eternal capital of the Jewish state. It was heartening seeing Senator-Dick Durbin-of Illinois reminding Fox News anchor-Bret Baier that it was s Democratic President Harry Truman who had recognized the state of Israel after its 1948 declaration of statehood.
Michele Obama’s speech in contrast to Ann Romney’s revealed a story that over 90 percent of Americans can relate to: the ability to juggle conflicting demands with lean resources. It revealed the community- laden tendencies of the larger American society who while ruggedly individualistic also are in the habit of looking out for those whose circumstance are gloomy or who had been dealt a bad hand by fate. While Ann Romney was attempting to humanize her husband and to blunt the corporate raider edges that the Democrats have sharpened through their negative ads, Michele Obama on the other hand, didn’t need to humanize Obama- his circumstance which 99 percent of Americans already have experienced, had humanized and defined him as a champion of the middle class and the little man.
As Americans went to bed on the first night of the convention, it was all too clear that unlike the Republican faithful who had gone out of the Tampa convention hall a little disenchanted and despondent by the disparate and muddled messages from their speakers, the Democratic Convention attendees left the hall in Charlotte, more energized and more determined to ensure that Barack Obama is reelected come November 6, 2012. They independents, whom Michele Obama represented on that stage may have had a smile on their faces as they went to bed, knowing full well that the course that Michele Obama charted and spoke eloquently in support of, was the right one-and not the one that was tried for eight years under the Bush years and had led us into the ditch from where Obama had been trying-without the help from the Republicans to pull the economic ship back again on a steady course.
As at the time of sending in this column, the ‘Big Dog’ himself-Bill Clinton was expected to bring down the house and put a nail deeper on the political coffin of the merchant of lies and obfuscation that is the Republican Party. It will be a fitting end to a party who can’t seem to disentangle itself from the policies of Ronald Regan who was president when almost a quarter of American electorate-those 30 and under were not born. A party that celebrates nostalgia, that can’t wean itself off of the past, does not deserve to lead the world’s most important nation and American people finally appears to be waking up to that reality…and it is a good thing-thank God!
Tribute to my friend and colleague-Ogbonnaya Amadi-the late Group Entertainment Editor of Vanguard newspapers
Last Wednesday-August 29th, I lost a dear friend and a brother, a colleague and a man whom I had an uninterrupted professional and personal relationship that spanned about 27 years.
A friend in whom I trusted and could confide some of my worst fears, hopes and dreams- a friend whom I had watched grow professionally from a tentative cub reporter at Vanguard newspapers in Kiri-kiri Canal, Apapa, Lagos, Nigeria back in 1985, when I, too, was a young columnist, still trying hard to find my voice and space in that crowded and ego-driven space of columnists who commanded national attention and readership to becoming the most authoritative voice in Nigerian entertainment and pop culture journalism. Though my journalistic trajectory then was a little different- writing the then exceedingly popular human interest and marriage and relationships themed “stories that touch the heart” for the defunct Sunday Times, and later Sunday Concord, Ogbonnaya Amadi and I became almost like Siamese twins.
Always interested in entertainment and pop culture journalism, I had met Ogbonnaya one evening at the office of my good friend and the-then pioneer entertainment editor of the newspaper-the late Hakeem Ikandu and he and I instantly established a brotherly bond that would last till last Wednesday, when the cold hands of death snatched him away from us. Until I immigrated to the United States in the late 90s, Ogbonnaya and I always found time to meet, socialize and share dreams and hopes. That bond of friendship did not end, even after I came to New York. We were always in touch, and in my numerous visits to Nigeria, Ogbonnaya was always on hand to either pick me up at the airport or show up a day later, at my hotel for those sweet moments of camaraderie and reminiscences.
I remember last February when I visited Nigeria, and told him of my desire to introduce my daughter into the Nigerian music scene, he told me “my brother, consider it done” and went ahead to first write a beautiful article, which I am reproducing below about my daughter and later told me of the contacts he had made with the powers -that -be in Nigerian music scene to make my daughter’s entry a seamless one. We were still working on that, when he died last Wednesday, leaving me, and his numerous friends and associates thoroughly inconsolable.
Ogbonnaya was an avid lover of the newspaper i publish in New york-The Diasporan Star, www.thediasporanstaronline.com , and had culled our numerous stories and had them published on the front page of Vanguard newspapers. The Nigerian entertainment and pop culture journalism has lost an icon- a man who gave the industry a new sense of panache and élan. May the good Lord give his wife, and the three children he left behind the fortitude to bear this loss.
Below is his article on my daughter as published in his column.
Carolyne ready to rock
By Ogbonna Amadi, Entertainment Editor
Apples they say do not fall far from the tree. That analogy best describes the talents and vocal skills of Carolyne Bukola Udoh- a Nigerian-American singer whose single “I Don’t Need your money”is currently the toast of Internet and is set to be released soon in Nigeria.
Carolyne, whose father-Ekerete Udoh is a popular Nigerian journalist and the publisher of the leading Nigerian Diaspora newspaper-The Diasporan Star, based in New York, himself once dabbled into music.
Carolyne- a stunning beauty, with large luminous eyes and standing at an amazing 6 feet tall, is currently studying political science at City University of New York (Queens College) and hopes to go to law school. Right from when she was a little girl,Carolyne, whose mother is of Yoruba extraction has always known where her creative passion lies “I love to sing, and I think I may have been inspired by what my dad did, and I wanted to take it to another level. Singing just comes natural to me, and I thank God for the gift of good voice.
I am also excited that people have found my single “I don’t need your money” a great effort. I am encouraged by thousands of people who have listened to it on line and the comments they have posted. (You can listen to Carolyne’s single -
“I don’t need your money “Gba Confam ft. Ama on YouTube.) I am looking forward to having the single released in Nigeria soon, and for me to bring my talents to my native land. I think Nigerian music is destined for bigger and better things-the recent signing on of D’Banj, who is one of my favorite music stars in Nigeria by Kanye West I think, was a very positive development.
It is great that American mainstream music stars are beginning to look at Nigerian music scene with a view to tapping its enormous talents pool.”
Asked how it feels to have a father who is deeply knowledgeable about the intricacies and the nuances of the industry, having reported and written on the Nigerian entrainment scene for over 20 years, the sexy singer who is also the lead singer at the New York flagship Winners Chapel said “It sure is a blessing. I mean, my father has been involved in entertainment scene for as long as I can remember.
Through him, I have met and interacted with countless Nigerian music and Nollywood stars. He has encouraged me tremendously, while reminding me not to take my eyes off the ball of academic pursuits, and I have so far impressed him, by keeping my grades very high, and assuring him that even though I am pursuing a musical career, it would not interfere with my academics and hopes of becoming a Harvard trained attorney.
So my dad and I have an understanding in that aspect, and we are straight” the singer whose vocal range is simply amazing had stated. Look out for Carolyn Bukola Udoh soon.
The concluding part of the series : Life in the Diaspora, why divorces are rampant within our community will be publsihed next week. Please keep a date