Obamawala: Tales of Hope and Harmony in Africa and America
Obamawala is a collection of stories of hope and harmony from East Africa and America. It is based on the inspiration created by Thurgood Marshall and the American dream of equality and opportunity when Ba Tejani met him as a student leader in Uganda, 1963. It led to Tejani's first novel, Day After Tomorrow dealing with racial harmony between blacks and browns. Arising from the fresh inspiration created by the American people with the election of Barack Obama as the first bi-racial President, the novel is revised and reprinted here to renew and re-affirm the vision of harmony between races. In this bold, tender, lyrical and unique story, Tejani celebrates the union of races in East Africa. The vivid warmth of their passion is likely to leave Lady Chatterley chattering on the sidewalk, while the lovers tour Khajurao.
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The writer was photographed with Honorable Andrew Hardwick, the first African-American Mayor of Freeport, New York at a ceremony in January 2011, when the author presented his new book entitled Obamawala, Tales of Hope and Harmony in Africa and African-America to the mayor. (This was one week after Dr. Tejani’s brain surgeries for Parkinson’s disease, with the surgical marks clearly visible on his forehead.)
Thurgood Marshall and the Kenya connection:
Not many people know that in 1960 Thurgood Marshall was in Nairobi, Kenya and worked on the draft of the Kenya constitution while there. “This makes him a Founding Father of our nation,” says Ba Tejani, a second generation Kenyan-American writer, born in Sultan Hamud, Kenya in March 1942. He lived in East Africa for 32 years from 1942 to 1974 and was exiled by Idi Amin from Uganda, where he was a citizen. He now lives in Freeport, New York and met Mr. Marshall in 1963, as a student leader at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Tejani describes the inspiration filled encounter in his new book, OBAMAWALA, 2010, with remarkable involvement, with candor and in vivid, distinctive terms defining the social realities of his time. OBAMAWALA is available to the public at the affordable price of $1.00, through link available with Google cloud. Below is Ba Tejani’s quote on Mr. Marshall:
As a young man ready to step into the turbulent social realities of East Africa in the 60’s, I needed a philosophy, a role model and purpose. The complexities of power sharing in Uganda, where I had become a citizen, were intricate enough to befuddle the wisest of minds, let alone a youngster like me. Civil war in my country and military dictatorship of Idi Amin were round the corner. At 21, deeply involved with my first novel and the dream of racial harmony, I needed someone to give me fresh energy and strength before I could make it public.
Thurgood Marshall happened to be this guide. Like the African-Americans, my people the Indians in East Africa, were a small minority and I wanted to be one of their voices to be heard in the area of change. The appeal in my novel DAY AFTER TOMORROW is to my African brothers and sisters to tolerate the Indians and to the Indians to be more sensitive to the Africans. In this sense I share the quality of the symbol in my novel. I was and am a child of a new civilization. I am an Obamawala. My vision was racial harmony for Uganda where I was a citizen and for the whole of East Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. These were places where I had lived and played and learnt the meaning of boyhood and the fast approaching manhood. Where my mother was born and her father rests in peace. Thurgood Marshall gave my dream a definition. This magnificent man who has been one of the true makers and shapers of history of America is also a deep part of our history in East Africa and of my personal story.
That night, much of the energy created in me by the dynamo of African Renaissance became focused. Thurgood Marshall made me think. Seeing a man much wiser, experienced and well known than any I had met and watching him discuss injustice with intensity and passion, made me feel normal. At college, many of us were getting ready to control our destinies and I had done many things as a student leader and sportsman to make the lives of others more meaningful. Thurgood’s emphasis on research and analysis, goals and strategies and proceeding without fear became my watchwords. He became one of my role models. Many a time when in need your soul may raise a cry, “What would Jesus do in a situation like this?” I would say to myself, “What would Thurgood do?” Especially regarding fear because this is a difficult feeling to hide.
As a writer I wanted my people, both the Indians and the Africans to have the same chance of benefiting from the larger world of discovery and opportunity as Martin Luther King Jr. wanted for the African-Americans and Americans in general. It was an inclusive vision, which Thurgood Marshall had made his life time goal