Why this book? Barack Obama’s life has been the subject of endless news reports, blogs, memoirs, and case histories. And yet at a deeper personal level, he has remained an enigma, a riddle, a person shrouded in mystery and mystique. There is a need for something definite and specific: a constructive setting forth of reality and truth. That reality and truth is embalmed in the antiseptic pages of this book.
Up Close and Personal With Barack Obama: The Kenya Experience “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploration will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” - TS Elliot I met Barack Obama close and personal in Kenya at the University of Nairobi at the great majestic Taifa Conference Hall. There he made a speech on the importance of excellent governance across the world. After the speech came the opportunity for a stimulating and engaging conversation. Earlier outside Taifa Hall I had embraced and chatted with him for quite some time. He appeared to me a simple ordinary person – ever smiling but beyond the smile there flashed through me a deep intangible unknowing that was difficult to comprehend. While his smile was genuine and truthful yet beneath his facial characteristic there was some kind of deep personal silent that I failed to catch. And that since then had left me with captivating longing. And it happened that within barely two years after meeting him, Barack Obama went on to become the president of the greatest nation on earth; the United States of America. With my quest to understand him correctly – to quench my longing - I have buried myself in an avalanche of millions of literature, speeches, critique. For me there has to be something more gigantic something more vast and deep that still remain a mystery about Barack Obama. For me it is hard to accept that a person can ascent to such highest political office in the world simply because he makes good passionate speeches as some suggests. The ascent to American presidency is a long hard, arduous and tough route. It is complicated and there are surmountable tough checks and balances that will effectively knock down any person taking chances, or an opportunist, fraudster, a charlatan and amateur in the White House; those are some of the descriptive words used by his harshest critics. What is beneath Barack Obama’s physical manifestation? What is this invincible phenomenon or halo about him that swept him to the powerful office on earth and made him the face of the 21st century? Those questions have been my day and night persistent and prolonged meditations? As I telescope the whole circumference I have always came to the believe that beneath the ever smiling face and passionate personal physical expression and speeches there is a vast world that has not been tapped fully in the millions of pieces of literature I have assimilated. I strongly believe that such imminent positions like president of United States of America are ordained and predestinated – that it is a calling for someone to assume such mighty role in life where his daily decisions affect billions of people across the world. It cannot be a process of chance and luck that we have Barack Obama in the White House. And that has, as I already said, my fascination and inquiry into the behind the scenes – not just the joyful happy face, not just good speeches, not just a friendly smile there is something beyond that and if there is then led as delve into the study. My background is shaped by the great terrifying African mountains; Mount Kenya, Mount Meru and the highest Mount Kilimanjaro. I was born and grew up in the valleys and the glades, the rivers, the deserts, the majestic baobab trees, the flowers, the gushing lakes such as Victoria Falls that define the face of Africa. My experiences are frozen in thick dark and black forests and baked and blackened by the oven heated African sun. My life outlook originates from the African jungles from the cheetah and the lion, the elephant and the buffalo, the hyena, the deadly black mamba and the stinging torturing mosquitoes. By that time I met Barack Obama close and personal at the Taifa Hall I had recently obtained my Master of Business Administration (MBA degree) and I was a chief researcher within the South African government. This was after President Nelson Mandela retired from government. Through my nonprofit philanthropy foundation Moving Forward, I have dedicated myself to the healing of Africa and the rest of the developing world through the promotion of innovation and research in schools. I have contributed financially for the establishment of excellent innovative leadership teams and networks in schools. In this age of fractured families and fractured communities my focus is on value centered education. To this regard I have been financially sponsoring leadership innovation in rural catholic schools across Africa. Though I am not a catholic I do know that Catholic schools have their origin in a deep concern for the better and excellent education for children and young people left to their own devices and deprived of any form of schooling. Catholic schools have always promoted excellent learning and education without discrimination of any kind. I see the role of school principals and teachers as nation builders: preparing students to assume leadership roles in society. That is my background! And you can see that my radically different background brings in very unique and fresh perspectives in an ocean of literature on Barack Obama. This book is a deeply personal inquiry on Barack Obama and his vision of moving forward. The personal nature of this book is a deliberate choice. I trust that your understanding of Barack Obama will become clearer and clearer as you immerse yourself in this book. The science and theory of muddling through My approach in this book is “muddling through”. In 1959, Charles Lindbloom published a paper under the title “The Science of Muddling Through”. Muddling through is the narration and presentation of arguments from the heart where the author is not following any specific theory or scientific methodology. As you feel it from the heart, you say it; you tell it as it is. The book is a mixture and convergence of diverse analysis of different, wide-ranging perspectives without any rigidity in organizing those perspectives. We are muddling through the sea of opinion and analysis about Barack Obama – those that are pro-Barack Obama and those that are anti-Barack Obama. As we muddle through, we make our proof with a text case and provide an evidence-based analysis. True, fulfilling living is muddling through – it does not follow any organized methodology of living. It evolves through convolutions and spiraling, always turning and weaving. As 19th century French teenage poet Arthur Rimbaud, who at the age of 17 was regarded by Victor Hugo as the “infant Shakespeare”, puts it: “I say that one must be a seer, make oneself a seer. The poet makes himself a seer by a long, prodigious, and rational disordering of all the senses. Every form of love, of suffering, of madness; he searches himself, he consumes all the poisons in him, and keeps only their quintessences. This is an unspeakable torture during which he needs all his faith and superhuman strength, and during which he becomes the great patient, the great criminal, the great accursed – and the great learned one! For he arrives at the unknown! Because he has cultivated his own soul – which was rich to begin with – more than any other man! He reaches the unknown; and even if, crazed, he ends up by losing the understanding of his visions; at least he has seen them!” This book is not about my personal experiences and contacts with Barack Obama in Kenya. The Kenya experiences not only loom large in Barack Obama’s personal life but also in his phenomenal successful political career. It was his first book Dreams from My Father that brought Barack Obama into the limelight. And the book’s setting is rooted in Kenya.
The author first met Barack Obama close and personal in the majestic Kenya; both chatted and enjoyed lunched together. He is a global researcher and member of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa. He is also the president and cofounder of the global Moving Forward!