Friday, November 07, 2008

"Mubarack Obama!"

I didn't make that up. "Mubarack Obama!" was a front page photo caption in the Times of India the day the US election results hit the headlines. I love bilingual puns and this one hits the spot.

Kids who wrote Barack Flat Stanley letters apparently got replies.

There will be young children in the White House again. What will that mean for writers of children's books? Surely in an Obama administration, poets will not be banned from readings on account of their political views. Campaign rhetoric aside, what will really happen to those wars already committed to being waged? Still it feels astonishing that there will be, at long last, someone literate in the Oval Office, someone who can write, and who understands that nuance is not a dirty word.

Speaking of nuance, on the plane to India I read The End of Empires: African Americans and India by Gerald Horne. Horne explores the untold history of the relationship between African Americans and Indians in the period leading up to Indian independence in 1947. I've never read this story told in quite this way before. Sure we all know that King derived his views from Gandhi but this book goes deeper. I had no idea of the extent of those connections from W.E.B. Dubois and Lala Lajpat Rai to the Ahmadiyya movement, to John and later Alice Coltrane and the Vedanta Society. I'll be poring over the footnotes and the bibliography in this book for a long time to come.

Looking back, it seemed a fitting prelude to the election results.


  1. Children's literature in the White House! What a wonderful image that is...Let's hope that children all over the U.S. and the globe see the First Children reading--and perhaps their parents reading to them.

  2. You are so right: how wonderful to have a president who doesn't brag about his poor academic record or show off his illiteracy every time he opens his mouth.

    I want to read that book you mentioned. A few years back I read Shiva Naipaul's account of a trip to Africa and it depressed me no end; I could see his point, but his experiences were so negative that I longed for a different perspective. Yours sounds like it would fit the bill.

  3. Thanks for posting. And yes, the Gerald Horne book is a fascinating read.