Monday, November 19, 2012

So Hussein Onyango Obama came to Sri Lanka in the 1940’s – yes it was President Barack Hussein Obama’s Grandfather!

We in Sri Lanka will have to be content with a visit of an Obama in the 1940’s when Onyango Obama came to our fair isle as a cook for a British captain in the Kings African Rifles during the Second World War.  He was also one of 75,000 who served in Burma, now Myanmar in the Second World War, and to which his grandson will touch down in a blue and white Boeing 747 in Air Force One as the President of the United States of America, 7 decades later.

It is an interesting bit of minutiae but important nevertheless, to appreciate how the US has changed, into a truly multiracial country of immigrants who are mixtures of many races and nationalities that have a common identity now in the United States.

The connections with his grandfather a servant of the British Army, must have some context in the President identifying himself with a history attached to British Colonialism also, and which must have undoubtedly influenced his father’s way of thinking too knowing the history attached to Barack Senior’s own father.

The point I wish to illustrate here is for readers to realize that the United States is a country of immigrants with incredible pasts. Whilst the President’s heritage is of Africans directly from the continent, his wife’s is of a mixture of African Slaves brought over to the Americas who were sometimes used as mistresses of their slave owners and whose progeny form the majority of Black Americans.

Gradually with interracial marriages gaining momentum and color becoming a thing of the past, the country will be united in one concept of Americanism that is color blind, but will preserve the essence of its founding principles. The various amendments to the Original Constitution determine how the American laws are interpreted by the Supreme Court.

In a time when the whole Constitution of Sri Lanka is questioned, especially as it relates to the impeachment where the procedure for removal of judges of the Supreme Court as laid out in Article 107 of the Sri Lanka Constitution, allows Parliament to exercise considerable control over the Judiciary and is therefore incompatible with both the principle of separation of power and Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

It is time that we in Sri Lanka make the leap to International Norms from the law of the jungle practiced in reality, and not regress, if we are remotely thinking of taking a seat alongside the credible nations of the world. 

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