Diaspora Ethiopians have been flexing their political muscles in the U.S., organising websites, rallies and email campaigns to persuade their compatriots to support Barack Obama's presidential run.
Many Ethiopians bloggers rallied to the cause, pledging cash and votes for the Democratic candidate whose father came from Kenya, a country that neighbours Ethiopia.
But others raised questions about the campaign, asking whether it was right to expect Ethiopian-Americans to vote en masse for any candidate.
At the head of the Obama pack was the new blog Ethiopians for Obama which, in Ethiopians Journey for Hope, said:
Most Ethiopians immigrated to America searching for the American dream—a dream for a better life and a new opportunity. Most arrived in America with the determination to fulfil the promise that America embodies; destined to realize this dream armed with little more than hope on their side. Ethiopians—like all Americans–embrace the message of Barack Obama, a message that our lives are intertwined with our infinite commonalities.
Ethiounited pointed to a YouTube video of Ethio-Americans speaking at an Obama campaign launch.
I have given a lot of money to the [Obama] campaign since I was not able to take time of from work and go volunteer at the campaign headquarters in Chicago, although I have made phone calls on behalf of the campaign for every primary.
wrote Bernos in An Obama Minute. Bernos has also been busy translating the Obama ‘Yes we can’ slogan into Amharic, one of Ethiopia's main languages, for a range of targeted campaign posters.
Ethioblog talked about its growing disillusion with the Clinton camp in Falling for Clinton and Clinton’s Doubletalk. Ethiopian Politics Blog pointed to another YouTube video describing Obama as the “embodiment of the American dream”.
But Abesha Bunna Bet sounded a strong note of caution in Even Ethiopians Are Crazy About Obama:
Ethiopians. We are not a bunch of herds that needs direction. We can not be told by any group (Ethiopians or not) who to vote for with out being told why. And the ‘why’ should be answered by our individual research, and not by folks who wish to take advantage of us based on heritage.
Tobian ThinkTank‘s email inbox was flooded with ‘Obamaganda’ by friends and relatives. When the blogger replied to them, saying he was backing Hilary Clinton, he got some hostile emails in response. In Surely, it must be that lesbian school … he wrote:
One curious thing to note about who's been sending me these emails has been that it has all come from black men. My friends who are female and black are still rooting all for Clinton…
I think Hilary & Obama should eventually run a joint ticket. They've divided the Democratic party straight down the middle line, and it is in their hands to bring the party, the country back together. As this country stands at the edge of a recession, one of my officemates pointed out, imagine Hilary as the president, Obama as vice president and Bill Clinton as a ‘first man'(?). Is that a power house, or is that a power house?
The Mongrel described how he remained suspicious of Obama, despite the current level of “mass-hysteria” in support of the African-American candidate.
In Conspiracy Brother he wrote:
Seriously though someone please put your hands on me and tell me it's OK to be black and not vote for Obama…I think that's what I'm fighting with deep inside. Either that or it's a case of OCD :-0