Siana Bangura: Week 6

A week of celebration leads SIANA to reflect on who inspires her the most.

ahmish america elections mum obama role models romney Siana Bangura single parents soldier

Everybody has a role model, right? Someone they look up to and wish they were more like? Someone who they feel utterly inspired by. Someone whose opinion they value the most.

This week has been one hell of an inspirational one for me. It started pretty mundane then got a bit bizarre thanks to a journey back into Cambridge from London, during which I (literally) fell into the lap of a soldier and had to graciously decline his offer of dinner and drinks (kind of funny considering last week’s article, but anyway).

Things picked up after a reasonably successful supervision and reached their apex midweek when Obama was re-elected to the White House. For me, and for many others this meant a lot. So much so, I hastily found myself a nail technician and fashioned my nails to salute the colours of the American flag.

Such a good week (they can be few and far between in a place like Cambridge) could not go without personal reflection. I pulled a glorious all-nighter (a change from the miserable coffee and essay crises fuelled ones I am used to) to make sure that I didn’t miss one moment of such an historic evening.

When Obama first made it to the White House I was at home with my family celebrating something that I never thought I would ever see in my lifetime, something that my mother never thought she would see in hers. Once those results were announced and Beyoncé belted out the late Etta James’ ‘At Last’, my mum wept with joy.

This time I wasn’t in the company of my family, but the excitement and worry were still present. I did think about my mum though, and the joy she’d be feeling once again to see Barack Obama get that second chance he needs.

For fear of digression, let me bring things home for you. Whatever your political allegiance or views on politics in general, I imagine that many people agree that Obama seems like a nice guy who genuinely cares. He seems like the type of guy who is a wonderful father, a loving husband (those words about his love for Michelle brought tears to my tear ducts, I tell ya), and a man who really wants to change the world. I’d rather have him round for cake than Romney.

Although evidently more worn and weather-beaten than in 2008, Obama still had the gift of the gab and made me believe, once more, in the change that he seeks. I remember asking my mum that night why she was crying and she told me that besides the fact she never thought she’d see a man of black, more specifically of African origin, take the position of President, she was overwhelmed to see someone so unlikely reach such great heights – particularly a man who came from a single parent family.

Although Obama’s story is complicated (I hear), I identify with some of it. I myself come from a single parent family and my mum fought tooth and nail to make sure my brother, sister, and I never affirmed any of society’s negative presumptions of children with only one parent.

I remember when I went to live with the Amish and deeply offended them because I was happy with and unashamed of my family situation. Through all the judgement, criticism, and negativity, my mum has always told my siblings and I to work hard, do well in school, and never let ourselves down. She taught us to have thick skin, to be determined and to never lose focus. Obama is the type of man I want my younger brother to look up to and see as a role model.

The list of people who have and still do inspire me is endless, but no matter how old I get, the person who will always inspire me the most is my mother. Mum is ‘small but mighty’. At barely 5ft 1, she has the spirit, heart and drive of a thousand Greek heroes. She is powerful, tenacious, humble and honest. She is everything I hope to be one day.

A role model is not someone without flaws. They are a person we respect because of the way they handle their imperfections and deal with the obstacles they face. I regularly write a list of ways I’d like to improve myself. It’s quite a ridiculous and impossible list if I’m honest. I am still working on my ‘indoor voice’, still trying to minimise the rambling, ranting, and my waffling. I am a flawed human being, as are my role models, but as my mum always says, ‘We are all a work in progress’. Cheesy as that may be it’s good enough for me.