Tue | Sep 19, 2017

Farewell, Obama

Published:Thursday | January 19, 2017 | 1:15 AM
President Barack Obama waves at the conclusion of his final presidential news conference, yesterday. (AP)

They've all completed the packing and the boxes have been moved out. The staff has handed in those items belonging to the State, even the BlackBerry phones that they were using for the past eight years. Teary-eyed goodbyes have been said in the final moments before America's first African American president, Barack Obama, walks out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, tomorrow to become a private citizen.

The man, who has been an inspiration to many worldwide, young and old, vilified by some, too, will be leaving the White House just as he arrived: with one of the largest approval ratings of more than 60 per cent.

"Yes, we can" was his mantra as he rode his tidal wave of popularity into the White House and the hearts of millions worldwide. The man, who would see many of his election promises strangled by his opponents who held the upper hand in the nation's Congress, was at times bashed by them as "no-drama Obama". Some said, "Yes, he did." But yesterday when he gave his final press conference, he told Americans, "In my core, I think we are going to be OK."

In Jamaica, admiration for President Obama is evident, and he obviously knows it. Who can forget when he laid on the charm with his "Wha a gwaan, Jamaica?" when he visited in April 2015.

As he demits office, Jamaicans recall what he has been to them. In this special 'Farewell, Obama' feature, bringing back memories, they hail him for his understanding of our culture, his expressions of hope in the Jamaican people, for being an inspirational president, and for his foreign policies that saw decades of acrimony with Cuba, America's undisguised and declared enemy, normalised.