A Fellow Student from Kenya and Barack Obama


From 1974 to 1978, I spent four years in Vancouver pursuing doctoral studies at the University of British Columbia. During this period, I stayed in a rented room near the university in the home of a Canadian Lady by the name of Olive Cuthbert. She was a retired nurse who had spent part of her younger days in Malaysia. She said the Malaysians had looked after her well and she wished to help students from developing countries to return the favor. She had since rented out two furnished rooms on the first floor of her Vancouver home to such students on very favorable terms. I stayed with her all through my four or so years of study while the occupant of the other room changed over the years. There was one from Fiji, then Kenya and finally from Nigeria. Since we shared the kitchen and much else in the home we all became good friends during our stay.

The most interesting of my friendship in this home was with the Kenyan student. His name was Mwaghazi Mwachofi Mwashimba, a Muslim Kenyan from Mombasa and Nairobi. He had an impressive and charismatic personality much like that of President Barack Obama and friends said that I too was good looking with a charming personality. He had completed a graduate program at the Wharton School in USA and then joined the University of British Columbia for further graduate studies. The two of us became such good friends that our land lady became worried we were developing homosexual tendencies and advised that we should get married to our respective girl friends soon. However, Mwaghazi returned to Kenya before the academic year was over without completing his graduate program because he was recalled by Kenya government, he was on a government scholarship and had already availed it fully at Wharton.. We exchanged a few letters later by snail mail but have lost contact since.

When Barack Obama appeared on the political screen in 2008, I immediately became a fan of his in part because of his similarities to Mwaghazi and also in part because what he said was appealing and humane. His ideas on the economy were excellent. Soon after becoming President, he did much to rescue America and the world from a devastating financial crisis. The present blog is an old one and the fact that I was a great fan of his until last year would be apparent to any reader who searched through old posts in this blog.

Nevertheless, as per my habit I have never been a blind supporter of any one in life and I believe no wise person should be for it is in the nature of humans that they are a combination of strengths and weaknesses and the best of human understanding develops when one recognizes both. The weakness I noted in Barack Obama was in the value he placed on his words. This was something Mwaghazi suffered from too. It was not his words about Gitmo (about which I have bugged him several times on twitter) or his wavering stances on pull out and surges from Afghanistan or red lines of Syria but the habit perhaps spreads to his personal life as well as  noted from his action on a matter of pet dogs for his kids. Some would recognize this as a small matter, a part of life, pragmatism or flexibility but reared in the epics of the Himalayas, I view this more seriously. Perhaps the most famous ancient epic of South and South East Asia is the Ramayana. It is a story of a royal family that lived by the motto

Raghukul rit sada chali ayee
Pran jai par Vachan na jai

This is in Hindi and translates as – This has always been the custom of our family, life may go but must words once spoken must be adhered to. The entire epic of Ramayana is a story that unfolded into wars, losses and victory because of this basic principle to the extent that because the King had promised one of his queens that he would honor any two of her requests whenever she asked, he even had to exile his most beloved son Rama to the forests for fourteen years as destitute hermit. He lost his life in the sorrow of that soon after but said on his death bed

Raghukul rit sada chali ayee
Pran jai par Vachan na jai

In the forest Rama’s beloved wife who had insisted on accompanying him, was kidnapped by the demon like King of Sri Lanka. However, Rama found help from an angel god in the forests come to earth in a monkey like body with a tail (called Vanar in ancient literature, a species that does not exist now but seems somewhere between monkeys and humans in physical appearance yet perhaps exceeding humans intellectually and in both verbal and physical ability)  called Lord Hanuman and was eventually able to rescue his wife from Sri Lanka. Lord Hanuman is the favorite guardian angel and god of many Asians including this author. Barrack Obama, who has spent some of his early years in Asia reveres him too and carries an emblem of Lord Hanuman in his pocket at all times. We have all had our personal and private experiences that has led to this belief.

Returning to the topic of this note, despite noting this shortcoming this author remained an ardent fan of Barack all through the years because as pointed out, it is in the nature of humans to combine weaknesses and strengths in their personality or else all would become like gods and angels themselves. However it is only over the last year that this author’s support for Obama has taken a beating and the reason for that is mentioned next and last.

They say power corrupts all and it is perhaps only a few like Bernie Sanders of USA, Jose Mujica of Uruguay, Narendra Modi of India and Jeremy Corbyn of UK in recent times that have kept themselves aloof from the temptations of wealth despite their long service as law makers. Most others fall for the trappings. Barack Obama’s support of trade deals like TPP and TTIP are most worrisome. Some notes that this author came across on the net suggested that it was because Obama was trying to increase corporate contributions to his library foundation. What is even worse is his outright support and endorsement for Hillary Clinton and not Bernie Sanders or even remaining neutral in the ongoing Presidential race. The Clintons have amassed a huge fortune through unethical if not illegal means i.e. by trading influence for lecture fees and donations to a foundation controlled by the family aside from the fact that they have a whole lot of other undesirable baggage, the less said of here the better.



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