KAMPALA, UGANDA – Recently travelling back from Canada to Uganda through London, England – capital of history’s most influential empire – I got some renewed perspective on global leadership and change and how, in politics, there’s nothing like old-fashioned fear to move things along.
Like others, the Brits are distracted by the US presidential election, a vote that can only get more interesting before the Yanks choose their 44th president on November 4 and move the world along its wobbly trajectory. All we can do is hang on and wonder what will happen next to scare the life out of us in this strange political version of the US TV show Fear Factor.
The clever but inexperienced Barrack Obama who, arguably, has as much charisma as anyone since JFK, has as much chance of being assassinated by some American crackpot who will not tolerate a black in the White House.
Meanwhile, old Republican warhorse John McCain, whose age puts into question his own ability to finish a full term, would potentially pass the presidential torch to a woman who’s likeable-enough, but only a few years past being mayor of an Alaskan town about the size of Seeta in Mukono.
I am just waiting for the next surprise, like Osama bin Laden, to join the fray. Of course there’s political fear. Africans know it intimately. We need not look further than this summer’s “vote” in Zimbabwe. As an astute American cleric where I work at Ugandan Christian University said to me, “We should pray for God to change Robert Mugabe’s heart. Or stop it.”
But back to Osama bin laden. Imagine how he could inject some real fear into things. Yes, if Obama were to take Osama as his new vice-presidential running mate, the Democrats could have a truly unstoppable ticket.
Think about it. The Republicans have pulled even in polls because they have stolen Obama’s mantra of change. Combined with her values that harness America’s evangelical Christian vote, Sarah Palin’s message to shake up Washington has already shaken things up.
The Democrats now need to fight fire with real fire. And who better to shake up Washington than the unpredictable bin Laden? You want fear? Even the two Republican mavericks wouldn’t get more trepidation than an Obama-Osama ticket.
Now, for several years I lived in Yemen, where bin Laden has roots, and where I reported on things like threats and bombings of extremists who called themselves “Friends of bin Laden.” It was routine. And this may have some bearing on my view on these things. But, opening the British papers in London, you’d be interested to know that being close to the Big O is not as dangerous as it used to be.
In fact, an Asian lawyer was just awarded 600,000 British pounds after filing a suit that she was wrongly suspended for joking to a court security guard, just two weeks after the 9/11 attacks on America, that she was a “friend of bin Laden.”
The payout to the 47-year-old Halima Aziz, a crown prosecutor from West Yorkshire who is also Muslim, is about 10 times the amount given to the victims of the July 2005 London terror attacks and their bereaved relatives.
Hmm. So it seems to me that we all do need to move on; a little less fearful of some things, and a little more fearful of others. And just enjoy the show. It’s all too entertaining to miss.