MANTALK: This man, Obama


Barack Obama is probably the only man another man is allowed to describe as “exquisite.” Or even “beautiful.” His beauty is not aesthetic but it’s in the distinctive emotional quality he brings and how he makes you feel that you are an important part of that mood – even though you might be watching him remotely on TV.

Obama leaves you buoyed. It’s something special.

I have been close to a world celebrity before, an A-list celebrity as Hollywood calls them. I was in her space the whole day, from dawn right until a few minutes shy of midnight, “trailing” her all over like a paparazzi.

Quite an unfulfilling endeavour to be honest. In her village, where she was visiting, I balanced my breakfast on my laps about a few metres from her as folk fawned around her.

In some instances, as they prepared to do her hair, I foolishly shuffled through the room she was in as I looked for the john, brushing so close to her I could see the pores of her skin and smell her foreign scent that smelled something abstract, like dew on a wet leaf.

Her space was constantly filled with reverence and awe.

At some point our eyes locked for a few glorious seconds, and I swear I saw a small glimmer of a smile crease the corner of her mouth before she looked away demurely.

At that moment I expected my knees to go weak and my breath to fall like a weight in the pit of my stomach and that special moment to remain clutched in my fist for a long time. But it didn’t.

She was just another charismatic lady with terrific teeth and great skin. (And phenomenal legs). I didn’t feel “overwhelmed” by “her presence.”

You know how someone’s presence shifts and displaces your own space? How you feel like your chakra has been destabilised? When you expect to be wowed, enthralled…to stand there glassy-eyed, your tongue feeling like lead at the floor of your mouth. I didn’t feel that.

But Barry? Oh boy! Even though most of us might never find ourselves in Obama’s space, he still manages to profoundly affect us remotely. When his plane pierced through the sky, pointing towards Addis Ababa, you felt lonely.


Let nobody lie to you, we all want to be like Barry because he embodies all the qualities anyone would want to emulate. And we can if we study the sensei himself.

First, I think we all can learn a thing or two about dressing from Obama. The days of wearing suits that look like you are going skydiving are gone.

Those MC Hammer pants that flap in the wind like a windsock and blazers that double as trench coats during rainy seasons surely are a no-no. Most of our politicians and those chaps who sell insurance wear bad suits.

And isn’t it just ironic when someone is selling you a life cover while in this miserable suit that also needs a life cover of its own? Suits should fit, period.

But of course it’s easier for slim chaps like Obama to look good in fitted suits because of their body frames. But Barry doesn’t wake up slim every day, he wakes up and he works out in the gym daily. Then he plays basketball frequently with chaps half his age. (Read Obama Way by Michael Lewis in Vanity Fair).

If POTUS can make time to work out daily at his age and his mad schedule, who are you who sells IT solutions from a briefcase not to?

Barry is also funny and witty and he knows what to do with his arms. You can tell a man’s level of confidence by what he does with his arms when he is on the spotlight. Our hands remain the biggest liability when we are under focus.

Great men have learnt to place their hands where they belong. But you can work out daily, get a lean body, wear fitted suits, and designer shoes, know what to do with your arms and be in a position of power, but still be an asshole. On top of all these things Obama “seems’ to be a good person. He’s a gentleman.

Did you see that video of him getting off his chopper when it’s raining and using his umbrella to cover his female staff members while half his body was getting soaked in the rain?

Humility is the most elusive trait for those in power. The urge to call the small people “matafaka” seems overwhelming when you are in a big office.

Even the best tailored suit will not mask a vile personality or a black heart. On top of all the eloquence and pragmatism and grace, Barry is an all-round cool guy.

He transcends gender or race. You keep hearing that he’s the first black American president but you always wonder if Americans still see him as black (with possible exception of the Republicans and Fox News).

The beauty with Obama is that he inspires you to be better for yourself and to want better for others.

I’m writing this soon after his Kasarani address, and I remember how when he went to the crowd and shook their hands, some chap cupped his hand with his two hands, clinging onto it desperately and when he was forced to let go his eyes shone with something that you don’t see often when people meet leaders, it was a thing of such tragic beauty to watch.