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African Views on U.S. Presidential Campaigns


For millions of people, waking up the morning after the election was like going cold turkey after a serious addiction.
 
For many others, the length and ubiquity of campaigns and non-stop ads on radio and TV (not to mention numerous robocalls and mass text messages) was the media equivalent of a massive migraine.
 
As for the recent general election, both campaigns raised nearly one billion dollars!
 
Such an extraordinary length of time (almost 2 years) and extraordinary amounts of money sets the U.S. apart from many nations in the world, especially those in Africa.
 
Abdoulay Diop, Mali’s U.S. ambassador, described the U.S. campaigns as "impressive."  He also found the length of races remarkable, noting, "For us, the campaign is about 35 to 40 days."
 
The political volunteering of American campaigns also impressed the Malian envoy.
 
A Nigerian political leader found American fascination with presidential candidates’ spouses remarkable.  Ike Ekweremadu, a Nigerian Senator and the Senate’s deputy president, explained, "In Nigeria, attention is on the candidate, not the spouse." As Nigeria has a large Muslim population (especially in the nation’s northern Kano State), this presents another problem, for Sen. Ekweremadu noted, "Some {candidates} who are Muslim have four wives.  So where do we start?  Among the four wives, it might not be clear who would be the first lady."
 
Nigerian Sen. Ekweremadu also remarked on the usage of negative commercials in U.S. political campaigns.  According to him, "Most media houses would not have the courage to accept a negative advert.  And…in any lawsuits, the media house must compensate you adequately. Most media houses will not allow themselves to be used in that kind of negative campaign because it could extract [serious] consequences."
 
American campaigns seem to last forever and cost a fortune.
 
In other countries, such a vast sum of money would surely be used for other purposes.
 
On the other hand, as one of the candidates here had an African father, Africans were fascinated with the race. Among celebrants of Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential win, few were as vigorous as those in African nations.
 
 
[Source: "AFRICA WATCH; African Observers Comment on US Presidential campaign," The African Times, Sept. 15-30, 2008, p.5].
 

Mumia Abu-Jamal is an acclaimed American journalist and author who has been writing from Death Row for more than twenty-five years.
 
Mumia was sentenced to death after a trial that was so flagrantly racist that Amnesty International dedicated an entire report to describing how the trial "failed to meet minimum international standards safeguarding the fairness of legal proceedings." The complete report is posted here:
http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR51/001/2000
 
Mumia can be heard reading his commentaries here: 
http://prisonradio.org/mumia.htm. He is author of many books, including Jailhouse Lawyers, Prisoners Defending Prisoners vs. The USA (introduction by Angela Y. Davis), forthcoming from City Lights Books, www.citylights.com

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