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Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. This is how true Barack Obama supporters were when he was first elected as the first African-American president of the US.
For Monica Stewart, chairwoman of Democrats Abroad South Africa, this election was even more precious.
“We just knew we were going to win,” she said. Stewart is part of the Africa US Inaugural Committee that hosted the inauguration dinner at the Montecasino ballroom in 2008. “This place was so packed then, the fire department should have been here,” she said.
This year, however, the turnout wasn’t as huge. Stewart said reality had set in and people were more sober this time around. “It’s sort of like people kind of expected it (second term), so it’s normal now,” she said.
Fellow committee member Dr Nomonde Mabuye said Obama’s second term was significant. We may not have another black president in America for a long time,” she said.
The dinner last night was attended by ANC national executive committee members Zizi Kodwa and chief Mandla Mandela.
The gala dinner had 250 guests this year, making the planning of the event much easier this time around.
“It wasn’t so much the time as it was a great deal of effort put into the event,” said Stewart.
Bishop Robert Kelley, the main organiser, said it was important to have such an event as it reminded people of the connection between the US and South Africa. “It improves our dialogue, which helps to influence administration on foreign policies,” he said.
Kelley said he was impressed with the turnout even though it wasn’t as big as the first dinner.
“It’s a celebration to witness what is still a historic moment,” he said.
Mandela said he had come to the dinner because he was a great believer in democracy.
“The comparisons between my grandfather being the first South African president and Obama being the first black president of the US has always had my attention,” he said.