This is President Obama’s second book. By the time of its publishing, he had served in the House of Representatives as the Illinois state representative and later on, as a three-term senator. Herein, he discusses, in the most personal and most patriotic way possible, his thoughts about; Republicans and Democrats, American values, the American Constitution, Politics, Faith, Race, and Family, among many others.
He talks of his journey as a community organiser in Chicago, meeting Michelle, his adviser at Sidley and Austin, who would later on become his wife, contesting for state legislature, making a stab at the Senate, and losing miserably, before eventually contesting it again, successfully. All through, he doesn’t just weave a narrative. He highlights vital lessons that he has had to learn, both the easy way and the hard way.
As only President Obama can, he reflects on his blended upbringing. Having a Kenyan father who was barely there, his mother remarrying and moving to Indonesia, before moving to Hawaii and then Chicago. He chronicles how these experiences informed the man he later came to be. A man who doesn’t prejudice on the basis of race or religion. It was bad enough that he was black. His name, complicated matters for him. Some didn’t understand how and why a Christian black man had a Muslim name.
Moreover, we get a first-hand account on how the rigours of politics can take a toll on one’s personal life. In this case, Senator Obama had to be gone for at least three days in a week to attend to matters of the Senate. This left Michelle to care for two kids. He recalls first seeing the White House in 1984, in his capacity as a student organiser, at the invitation of President Ronald Reagan. He’d later go back there as a senator, and more gloriously as the country’s first black President. Don’t you love a happy ending! The influence of special interests and big money in politics is a theme that is discussed in depth.
His love for his country, his desire for progressive politics, and his advocacy for democracy cannot be doubted. In his own words;
“…We have a stake in one another, and that what binds us together is greater than what drives us apart, and that if enough people believe in the truth of that proposition and act on it, then we might not solve every problem but we can get something meaningful done.”
What a man! What a life! What an author! What audacity! What hope!
REVIEW BY AURA BILLY OSOGO