U.S. Election: South Africa's View

South Africans have been consumed with crippling nationwide power outages and other issues closer to home, such as a much-condemned racial incident involving four white students and some black university employees. But when asked about the U.S. presidential race, the name they seem most familiar with is that of Barack Obama.

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OFEIBEA QUIST: This is Ofeibea Quist-Arcton in Johannesburg.

Now, here in South Africa, the nation has been focused on issues close to home. Crippling power shortages and a much-publicized and much-condemned incident involving four white university students allegedly humiliating five black campus employees on video. It was redolent of the apartheid era.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO NEWS BROADCAST)

QUIST: South Africa's news and information leader. This is SAFM(ph).

QUIST: But that doesn't mean that South Africans aren't aware. A nationwide radio call-in show this morning gave listeners an opportunity to comment on the U.S. nomination race. And remember, often here in South Africa, issues are seen through the prism of race and color.

QUIST: The whole thrust of that discussion was exactly how you defeat racial stereotype, and that's the challenge that Obama and Clinton - in their different ways - face.

(SOUNDBITE OF AIRPLANE)

QUIST: Okay. Well, let's see what the average South African thinks. I have come to a shopping center, it's called Campus Square, it's a mix - black, white, Indian, youth.

Excuse me, sir, can I ask you one what you think or know or care about the American presidential nomination campaign? And your name?

M: Johann, Johann Truskia. I hope Barack Obama wins because I think he'll be good for Africa. And it looks like he's in the lead. And I think he's more of a statesman than Hillary. So I'm all for it.

QUIST: And what about the Republicans?

M: Oh, no, no. I don't think their minds are screwed on right, very conservative, diminished view of the world. And maybe a slight supremacist ideology, I'm not sure.

QUIST: Excuse me, there. What's your name?

M: Rizolo Bolo. Obama, they say, he's going to be the next president or something, because I know United States are needing a first black president.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRAFFIC NOISE)

QUIST: Can I ask you what do you think about this? And your name please.

M: Yurina Kebore. I'm just glad they're going to get rid of George Bush because of all the - whatever he's been causing. And let's hope that the Clinton lady wins.

QUIST: Thank you very much.

This is Ofeibea Quist-Arcton for NPR News in Johannesburg.

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