I was initially trying to ignore the U.S. election campaign because, well, it’s quite annoying being reminded of how dominant the superpower is. And I couldn’t help thinking that all the enthusiasm about Obama was more hype than anything else.

Then I thought of highlighting this post by Steve Hayes in which he describes himself as being more relieved than elated at Obama’s election, and which pretty much sums up my feelings on the American presidency – he is a South African after all! Or this one by Byron Smith (an Australian), which provides a thoughtful reflection on the dangers of messianic expectations.

But I must admit that I am beginning to be just slightly infected by some of the enthusiasm. When I read Peter Gilbert describing how a vast cloud had lifted I could not help but being reminded of our South African elections in 1994. I don’t want to overstate the comparison, much less to place Obama in the same category as Nelson Mandela. (And even Madiba was not the Messiah). And there was hype and emotion involved that tended to blur some of the real issues. But it did nevertheless do something important for our national identity, providing hope for a different type of society, and providing an end to our status as a pariah nation. It certainly did not usher in the Kingdom but it was nevertheless a formative experience that I look back on in gratitude, however messy South African reality may have become.

So, yes, I do rejoice, if rather tentatively, with those who are rejoicing and hope and pray that it makes a difference, not just for the U.S.A. but also for the rest of the world.

(And if anyone is inclined to raise the abortion issue in any isolated fashion, I would recommend this post).

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