Obama’s era in pictures by Yanga Soji

“Obama’s White House” follows President Barack Obama on his journey to make American history with his controversial Healthcare Bill, and the man in pursuit of the photos that will capture historic moments of the Obama administration.

The National Geographic channel documentary had its South African premiere at the Wits Origins Centre on Sunday 27 February. United States Ambassador to South Africa, Donald H Gips, introduced the documentary and spoke briefly about the man he has known for six years and under whom he is proud to serve.

Pete Souza is the president’s chief photographer and is responsible for ‘creating the official photographic archive of Obama’s time in office, granting him unprecedented access to the president as he goes about his work in the White House and beyond.’ Souza follows the president everywhere he goes, capturing him performing his presidential duties in the States and around the world, and off guard relaxing with his family.

The documentary includes commentary from President Obama and the chief photographers of previous US presidents, who also commented on their experiences. The most thought provoking was probably Eric Draper, who was the chief photographer during President George W Bush’s term. Draper recalled the day of the September 11 attacks and how he used his camera as a distraction during that emotional day in the president’s office.

President Obama did eventually get his Healthcare Bill passed by the House of Representatives, after suffering some setbacks, particularly in the form of resistance from the Republican camp, who threatened to put a stop to his hopes for the future of America’s public health system.

During the question and answer session after the documentary screening, the ambassador made some thought-provoking comparisons between South Africa and the States. “There are many people in America without healthcare insurance, as there are in South Africa,” he said. He also said he thought that President Obama’s State of the Union address was similar to that of his South African counterpart. Both were vocal about unemployment and job creation, a situation that the ambassador said was a concern worldwide.

“Obama’s White House” premieres on Sunday March 6 on National Geographic, channel 260 on DSTv.