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America Inaugurates Obama; The Days of Slavery are Gone
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Jan 19, 2009, 00:30
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The visions of many people, including the African-American Civil Rights Activist, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., will soon come to pass with the inauguration of the first African-American to serve as President of the United States of America (USA).

It has been the dream of most African-Americans like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that one day a black man would be elected President of the USA; a development that will surely mark the end of white supremacy. True to this dream, the days of the lingering mental slavery and white supremacy have come to an end, with the inauguration tomorrow of Barrack Hussein Obama, who upon taking the oath of office would mark the 56th time that a U.S. President has been sworn in for a 4-year term since 1789, when George Washington first took the same oath.

A black slave displaying his whipped back

In a bid to relate the Blackmans elevation to the citadel of power in America with that of White supremacy (enslavement of the Blackman) and the Africans dream, this piece will attempt to look at the biography of Obama and the origin of slavery which latter, in my opinion, contributed immensely to the super world power position of the USA. It was the sweat and blood of black slaves which built the foundations upon which America currently stands.

Cruelties of Slavery

Barack Obama who is currently blessed with two black children by his beautiful black wife.was born on the 4th of August 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii. His black father, Barack Obama, Sr., was born of Luo ethnicity in Nyanza Province Kenya and grew up herding goats with his father who was a domestic servant to the British. Obamas white mother, Ann Dunham, grew up in Wichita, Kansas. Her father , Stanley Dunham, worked on oil rigs during the Depression. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he signed up for service in World War II and marched across Europe in Pattons army whilst Dunhams mother (Obamas white grandmother) went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they were educated by the US Government and later bought a house in Hawaii which was where their daughter, Ann was to meet Barack Obama Snr. Obamas parents were both students at the EastWest Center of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. However, Obamas parents, separated when he was two years old and later divorced with Obamas mother remarrying and moving to Jakarta, Indonesia, where the young Obama attended schools where classes were taught in the Indonesian language. Four years later when Barack (commonly known throughout his early years as "Barry") was ten, he returned to Hawaii to live with his white maternal grandparents. He was enrolled in the fifth grade at the esteemed Punahou Academy, graduating with honours in 1979. He was one of only three black students at the school. This was where Obama reportedly first became conscious of racism and what it meant to be an AfricanAmerican.

Inhuman treatement of slaves being escorted to the plantations

After that brief about Obama, let me at this point take you through the African Slave Trade. At the end of the 14th century Europeans started to take people from Africa against their will. Initially they were mainly used as servants for the rich. The Europeans justified the taking of slaves by arguing that they were providing an opportunity for Africans to become Christians. By the 17th century, research shows that the removal of slaves from Africa became a Holy cause that had the full support of the Christian Church. When Spanish and Portuguese sea-captains began to explore the Americas they took their African servants with them. Some of these Africans proved to not only be excellent explorers but showed tenacity to survive the American climate.

The family that changed the history of white supremacy

It must now be noted that the people living in the Americas resisted the attempt by the Europeans to take over their land but their resistance proved futile against the White invaders. For example, it is estimated that over a million people lived in Cuba before the arrival of the Europeans. Twenty-five years later, there were only 2,000 left. Large numbers had been killed, while others died of starvation, diseases, committed suicide or had died from the consequences of being forced to work long hours in the gold mines of the white Europeans. So it was that after the arrival of the Europeans there was a sharp decline in the local population of most of the islands in the Caribbean Sea. This created a problem for the Europeans as they needed labour to exploit the natural resources of these islands. Eventually the Europeans came up with a solution: The importation of slaves from Africa. By 1540, an estimated 10,000 slaves a year were being "imported" from Africa to replace the diminishing local populations. British merchants became involved in the trade and eventually dominated the market. They built coastal forts in Africa where they kept the captured Africans until the arrival of the slave-ships. The merchants obtained the slaves from African chiefs by giving them goods from Europe. At first, these slaves were often the captured soldiers from tribal wars. However, the demand for slaves became so great that raiding parties were organized to obtain young Africans who were then forcibly exported from Africa to work as slaves in the Americas..

In the 17th century Europeans began to establish settlements in the Americas. The division of the land into smaller units under private ownership became known as the plantation system. Starting in Virginia the system spread to the New England colonies. Crops grown on these plantations such as tobacco, rice, sugar cane and cotton were labour intensive but the European immigrants did not wish to partake in hard labour. Planters therefore began to purchase slaves. At first these came from the West Indies but by the late 18th century they came directly from Africa and busy slave-markets were established in Philadelphia, Richmond, Charleston and New Orleans. Slaves were in the fields from sunrise to sunset and at harvest time they are obliged to work even harder. Women worked the same hours as the men and pregnant women were expected to continue until their child was born.

The death-rate amongst slaves was high. To replace their losses, white plantation owners encouraged the black slaves to breed like laboratory rats. Child-bearing started around the age of thirteen, and by twenty the women slaves would be expected to have four or five children. To encourage child-bearing some plantation owners promised women slaves their freedom after they had produced fifteen children.

The law by then provided slaves with virtually no protection from their masters. On large plantations this power was delegated to overseers. These men were under considerable pressure from the plantation owners to maximize profits. They did this by bullying the slaves into increasing productivity.

The main method used to control the behaviour of slaves was the threat of having them whipped. The number of lashes depended on the seriousness of the offence. Reports say 39 lashes was the number for most offences. Some of these slaves attempt running away and the unfortunate ones who were recaptured were reportedly faced with all forms of inhuman treatment and in most cases have themselves killed. Women as well as men were whipped.

As they knew that as blacks were unable to give testimony against white people in court, overseers knew that they were fairly safe in handing out these whippings. In September, 1844, the St. Louis Republican reported that an eight year old black girl had been whipped to death. However, the master of the girl walked out of the court a free man.

At that ignoble period of humanitys existence, any prophecy suggesting that white supremacy will come to an end, would seem far fetched from ever becoming a reality. The Whiteman had by then considered the Blackman to be his inferior whose only value was as slaves. But as the future of the world now dictates that the Africans, who during the slavery days were forced to build America to the peak it has attained, are now at the helm of affairs as far as Americas Governance is concerned. Barack Obama, born of an African father and American mother, is now the King of the Free World; ruling blacks, whites and even reds. This is a clear manifestation that the days of slavery, racism, torture and general human rights abuses should finally be over. It is really thought-provoking that an African cattle-rearer, went to America, married a white woman who gave him a black son and that African American son is now the King of the World. Food for thought.

Anyway, let me at this point hasten to take my readers through tomorrows day activities, marking the elevation of Africans from slaves to Kings of the world. Its the thought popping into many peoples mind as they think over gluing to their television & radio sets or grabbing a flight or train to Washington, D.C., for a front-row seat or view to history - to watch or hear Barack Obama being sworn in as President of the United States.

It could be recalled that Obama defeated the Republican pick for President, Arizona Senator John Mc Cain, after years of adverts, infomercials, primaries, debates and an online campaign that generated a groundswell of support among the nations disaffected youth, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. The junior senator from the state of Illinois announced his candidacy 24 months ago, beginning his historic, barrier-busting bid for the nations highest office.

The theme of the 2009 inauguration, which is slated for Tuesday 20th January, is "A New Birth of Freedom". The presidential inauguration is an event thats about as close to a royal coronation as American government gets. Its a day filled with ceremony, guards, salutes, parades and speeches among others. The historic nature of Obamas presidency (not to mention his oratorical abilities) guarantees that his inauguration will be one for the ages. Everyone anxiously awaits Tuesdays inauguration to witness Obama standing before a judge (in this case Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts) and swear the 35-word oath prescribed in Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution of the United States of America: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

According to reports, Obama will place his hand on the same Bible President Lincoln used at his first inauguration in 1861, when taking the oath of office. The Bible is currently part of a collection at the Library of Congress. Although a Bible is traditionally used at the swearing in, it is not a constitutional requirement.

Joe Biden will be sworn in as vice president prior to Obama taking the oath of office, with the oath administered by Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. The vice presidential oath has been part of inauguration ceremonies only since 1937, President Franklin Roosevelts second inauguration. Previously, the vice president was sworn in at a Senate ceremony because the Constitution designates the vice president as president of the Senate.

Many elements have been added to the inaugural program over time. President Obamas inauguration will follow the trend of recent years and feature several days of dinners, balls, receptions and other events focused on the theme of "Renewing Americas Promise."

Obama and family reportedly arrived in Washington from Philadelphia, via train, stopped in Wilmington, Del., for Vice President-elect Joe Biden and his family, on Saturday 17 January. The first inaugural celebration took place on the afternoon of Sunday January 18, with welcoming events throughout the city. Obama kicked off inaugural activities with an event on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The event started at 2:30 p.m. Beyonce, U2, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Usher, Shakira, Sheryl Crow, Josh Groban and James Taylor are among the musicians who performed at the ceremony. All Through the weekend, there were festivities honoring the incoming president.

Today 19th January, the President-elect and Vice President-elect will participate in the national day of community service event. To honour Dr. Martin Luther Kings legacy, Obama, Biden and their families, joined by Americans across the country, will participate in activities dedicated to serving others in communities across the Washington, D.C. area. A battery of Inaugural Balls will also be held today. It is also scheduled for Obama to attend three private dinners to honour former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, Biden and Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, for their public service.

Gates to the Inaugural Ceremony open at 8 a.m. The inaugural festivities are scheduled to start at 10 a.m. on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol. They will include: Musical selections of The United States Marine Band, followed by the San Francisco Boys Chorus and the San Francisco Girls Chorus; Sen. Dianne Feinstein will provide call to order and welcoming remarks, to be followed by an invocation by the Rev. Rick Warren; musical selection of Aretha Franklin. The swearing into office ceremony of Biden will at this point commence, presided over by Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

To be administered by Chief Justice John Roberts, Obama will take the Oath of Office, immediately after a musical selection of John Williams, composer/arranger with Itzhak Perlman, (violin), Yo-Yo Ma (cello), Gabriela Montero (piano) and Anthony McGill (clarinet). At this stage, then comes the inaugural address to be delivered by no less a personality other than the president-elect himself, Barack Obama. A poem would be read by Elizabeth Alexander followed by benediction by Rev. Joseph E. Lowery. Now comes the time for the United States Navy Band "Sea Chanters" to render the national anthem. After that, President Obama will escort the outgoing President George W. Bush to a departure ceremony before attending a luncheon in the Capitols Statuary Hall. The 56th Inaugural Parade will then make its way down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House. Later that day, the Presidential Inaugural Committee will host 10 official inaugural balls. Following the noon swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol, President Bush and first lady Laura Bush will leave Washington that day, as private citizens. To end the grand inaugural ceremony, the President, Vice-President and their families will on Wednesday 21st January 2009 participate in a prayer service at the Washington National Cathedral.


© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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