Community: How the desire to self-promote can get in its way

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No I’m not going to write a critical piece about the Nigerian wife, of the former Nigerian Prime Minister, Goodluck Jonathan. Although I am going to compliment her expensive and elaborate headdress, her equally expensive and no doubt elaborate lace cloth outfit (to buy the actual material can cost hundred of pounds even before you have paid a seamstress to design and sew the outfit.) and her costly jewellery. These are the accoutrements of promotion, of attaining a certain status, degree of influence and power.

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Can anyone recall the first time Cory Booker (now Senator Booker) ran for Mayor in Newark? I remember watching the documentary about it in stunned disbelief. On January 9, 2002, Booker announced his campaign for Mayor of Newark rather than running for re-election as councilman; this pitted him against longtime incumbent Sharpe James.

James, who had easily won election four consecutive times (mainly because of his impoverished and beleaguered black supporters) , saw Booker as a real threat, and responded with mudslinging, calling him at a campaign event “a Republican who took money from the KKK [and] Taliban… [who’s] collaborating with the Jews to take over Newark”.

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In the campaign, James’ supporters questioned Booker’s suburban background, calling him a carpetbagger who was “not black enough” to understand the city. Booker lost the election on May 14, garnering 47% of the vote to James’ 53%. 

Senator Cory Booker lost that round, to a man who no doubt started out wanting to do good for his African-American community. Although he got very good at promoting himself and no doubt enjoyed the various material and financial benefits that come from being successfully elected to a political position of authority, even if the folks who voted you in get no benefit from you at all.

Rashid Nix

As Doctor King stated once in a sermon of his ( to my everlasting shame I forget which one) life’s most pernicious question is, what are you doing for others? Doing for others, not yourself. In King’s words,

‘the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into friends.’

Which is why I return to the subject of Goodluck Jonathan’s wife who once sympathetically received and listened to a delegation of concerned Nigerian mothers, who petitioned her for more government action, on the abduction of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram. Their reward for presuming to tell those with a measure of power what they might do? Arrest and temporary imprisonment, as a warning. Unsurprisingly Jonathan Goodluck is no longer prime minister. Prime Minister Bukhari has replaced him.

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