An Obama does not just come off as a former President of America but as a model husband and father having married an equally brilliant Michelle who saw in him the qualities of a truly good man but far from perfection. They might both not be perfect but which human is? Barack stands as a good example of what a supportive and appreciative man can gain from respecting the woman in his life. It’s usually a win-win situation like we have with this first black couple to live in the white house with the full realization of their roles as trailblazers who had history in mind.
A Michelle stands out as a brilliant woman whose eye for excellence saw her growth and successes through Ivy League schools at a time that blacks were still trying to integrate into the American educational system. Her motherhood roles seemed effortless not because she had super powers but because she was determined to succeed as a mother just like her mum who accompanied them to the White House. Her effort to re-orientate parents by trying to draw attention to juvenile obesity and her idea of having a garden at the White House as a way of encouraging healthy feeding for kids was very innovative.
Her brilliance shown through in her classy by totally simple dressing and measured use of her office to draw attention through patronage to hitherto unknown designers that she launched into prominence. The couple brought to the White House the family cohesion and family support of their heritage and stamped their unique footprints in the history books. They are a model couple. That a respectful Barack on a casual date sought her permission by asking, “Can I kiss you” signaled a lifetime of dignity and respect. The #METOO movement might have been nonexistent if most men had that sense of dignity in relating with women no matter their status. That singular display of respect and restraint says a million words.
In all ‘Becoming’ has truly earned its place in the history of memoirs for the sense of commitment and authenticity in telling a story of growth, of social and political developments, of the lives of every human being being of the same essence irrespective of gender, creed, color , race or class.
The triumph of the human spirit amidst obstacles and doubts sums up this brilliantly written work of art. The narrative is almost conversational drawing in any reader. The chronology in her odyssey is well laid out with attention to all details. Her attention to the most seemingly insignificant details like colors, the weather, voices and tones, facial expressions, architectural arts, relationships and expression of emotions stand the book out and further connects her to any reader. She is not telling the story of her prominence or excitement as FLOTUS but as a regular child, woman, mother, and a politician’s wife who is just a regular human being subject to life and its many experiences and challenges. The honesty of narrative is totally very appealing.
Good thing is, Michelle tells us she is still becoming because we all are in the process of becoming something in life just like the chronology she has bared in her book, we are on a journey of becoming ourselves in different forms. Becoming is a story well told in ways that we each see a reflection of ourselves in one way or the other. The ease of the narrative and the authenticity come with the attraction that make the author one of the most sought after public speakers in the world today.
She has in her own words documented for generations how she grew to become the first black First Lady of the United States of America. It is her BECOMING Michelle Robinson Obama and also a story about Obama becoming the 44th President of the US starting from the moment he walked into her office at the law form as her mentee and the collaborative efforts of all that worked for his political victories. Theirs was a true partnership that birthed success and the world is undoubtedly inspired by their story.
In my view, the central message of this memoir is the value of family, relationships, community, love for country and the unalloyed loyalty we each owe those sectors. The couple’s commitment to those is admirable and a model to the world. Their dedication to empathetically being available for family, community and country is the hallmark of their participation in American politics. Their unity of purpose has been a huge asset to their mission in politics. They are a perfect example of the axiomatic charity starting at home. They started from their communities to sow the values of care and support. Their carrier choices show their inner core as very community-oriented and they were a perfect match and a grateful country spoke at the polls repeatedly. Lessons!
This memoir would definitely raise the bar for Obama’s own taking us back to his campaign days when it did appear that Michelle raised the bar in public speaking given the oratorical excellence she gave the world each time she took the podium. She speaks with a truly effortless confidence and a genuineness that is very enchanting. Barack must work very hard to beat her excellent record. The world can’t wait…
Nnedinso Ogaziechi is a Lagos-based journalist.