The inauguration of President Barack Obama today sets a new high water mark in the achievement of Afro-Americans. Whatever the future disappointments and failures of the Obama Presidency, and there will be some, nothing will be able to wash away the memory of this historic moment for all who are part of the African diaspora. This is a great moment and it begins to finally close the chapter on the great stain that was slavery, segregation and apartheid. The American people clearly recognise this historic moment and are turned out in their many thousands for the inauguration.
President Obama assumes office at a time when the affairs of the world are in great flux. Even before the onslaught of the current financial crisis it was clear that powers like China and India were on the path to becoming major economic world players. The recession that we all find ourselves in may slow this process but it will not stop it.
There are many serious challenges in store for Obama but within each challenge also lies opportunity.
In tackling the challenge of climate change there is the opportunity to develop new and cleaner technologies which will benefit us all in health and cost.
In tackling the challenge of terrorism there is the opportunity not just to resist it militarily but to take much more substantial steps to encourage democratic and economic development in those places where terrorism has festered.
In tackling the challenge of the middle east there is the opportunity to settle a long standing injustice to the Palestinians and to bring security for the Israelis.
All this and more is possible if the power and authority of the US is brought properly to bear on these challenges.
There is no doubt that President Obama will tackle such challenges with a will, and equally no doubt that not all that he does will succeed. The expectations of President Obama are so high that there is bound to be disappointment.
Nevertheless the inauguration of President Obama brings much needed hope not only to the US but also to the world. It brings the possibility that he may actually succeed in seeing challenges as opportunities and so fulfil the hopes of many.