Obama and Africa


President Obama makes his sub-Saharan Africa debut with a visit to Ghana next week and WHYS is doing a TV special to discuss it. We’re looking for African and American guests in London, Johannesburg, Lagos, Washington and New York to take part in the discussion (that’s where we have TV studios), so let us know if you’re interested in participating.

Obama has super-hero status in the eyes of many Africans and Obamania has swept the continent. Shanta Devarajan, a World Bank economist, was excited the night Obama was elected.

But not everyone’s so optimistic. Horace Campbell doesn’t think Obama will deliver the kind of change promised in the election campaign.

He says hiring Lawrence Summers as Obama’s chief economic adviser proves this. Summers once wrote a memo saying it was more economical to dump toxic waste in 3rd world countries.

And Amedor in Accra is sceptical about why Obama is going to Ghana. He asks if it’s for ‘America’s gain especially in our newly found oil’. Here’s some other issues facing Obama and Africa:

Africom is set to continue under Obama. It’s the new US Dept of Defense Africa Command, responsible for military operations in Africa. The idea was so unpopular there, that only 1 out of 53 countries was willing to host it. It’s HQ is currently in Germany.

Homosexuality and Abortion
Obama’s views on these are very different to Bush, so how will that go down in Africa? Rodney says that if someone like Obama ran somewhere in black Africa on a platform enhancing gay rights and legalizing abortion, he would lose.

Good Government
Farooq argues Ghana’s reward is Nigeria’s punishment because the US approves of countries progressing towards democracy and is showing “tough love” to those that are seen as corrupt.

Many Africans hoped Obama’s inauguration would be start a new push to alleviate poverty and hunger but some experts believe his proposal to double foreign assistance to $50 billion by the end of his first term is unfeasible.

So what can Africa really expect from its beloved son? He’s only stopping in Ghana for 1 night. Will Africans great expectations turn into anything real?

Post your comments here or email me if you interested in taking part in our tv programme on Friday 10th July.

30 Responses to “Obama and Africa”

  1. 1 RightPaddock
    July 3, 2009 at 15:43

    Is Ghana really the only gig that the Obama Foillies are playing in the whole of Sub Saharan Africa – I cant believe it.

    I see the trip is tacked onto the end of visits with the Medvedev-Putin duo in Russia and the Berlusconi comic opera in Italy, none of whom could be described as paragons of democracy. If he’s s going to the G8 he’ll also have to suffer yet another dose of the Human TeaCozy, Boring Broon and Murky Angele.

    After putting up with that lot I suspect Barry & Mich will need a bit of R&R, Ghana has some nice beaches I think. But if I were an African I think I’d be telling them to not bother, unless they’ve got more to offer than yet another pretty speech.

    Gee Whiz Bush spent a lot of treasure on HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention in Africa and he was instrumental in getting the pharmas to provide African countries with HIV/AID medicines at an affordable price. Hence Barry may not have such an easy act to follow in Sub Saharan Africa as he has had in Europe and the ME.

  2. July 3, 2009 at 16:47

    so he’s coming to Africa, well it’s nice and cool, but i believe it’s high time Africans stopped this ridiculous notion of “Aids” or how Obama will now help Africa out because he’s of African Descent. i mean Obama IS the president of The USA not Africa. dont we think its high time we do stuffs ourselves here, and hold our leaders accountable for thier deeds?
    if Obama were an African(Nigerian in particular), he would have been sidelined! he would not be were he is today. we very well know that many Africans are against most of his policies – they only like him because of his ancestry, which says a lot about how we practice our politics and our general hypocrisy.

    Ayotunde Ayoko ~ Lagos

  3. 3 VictorK
    July 3, 2009 at 17:05

    I’d be interested to hear from Americans on two points. 1 – in this time of economic crisis, are you happy for your government to be handing out billions of your tax dollars in aid to Africa, Pakistan, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, etc? 2- Is your President constitutionally manadated to hand over American taxes to foreigners?

    As RightPaddock noted, George Bush did a great deal for Africa. Is it too much for that to be acknowledged, not least by Africans?

    If we’re honest, Africa counts for almost nothing in the scheme of things. African governments are insignificant and powerless on the international stage. Africa is only noticed by outsiders for the sake of its mineral resources. Africa can do nothing for Obama. What he can do for Africa is to take a lead on Darfur, Somalia and the DR Congo (not because any of them are his business, but because someone has to!), and perhaps galvanise efforts to resolve these humanitarian crises. Instead I expect him to apologise for slavery, babble about his African ancestry, and lecture Africans about good governance.

    • 4 patti in cape coral
      July 6, 2009 at 13:57

      Hi VictorK – In response to your question, I don’t mind money going to ease human suffering in Africa, except for the fact that it doesn’t seem to ease the suffering. It makes me wonder where the money IS going. I also recently received an e-mail (admittedly from a republican friend of mine) that stated that in certain parts of Africa, Mr. Bush was, and is still very popular for the help he has given.

  4. July 3, 2009 at 17:07

    Just as Obama told off Putin, he needs to blast these corrupt African dictators.

    • 6 RightPaddock
      July 5, 2009 at 10:14

      Makes very little difference what Obama or anyone else says. Countries are sovereign, leaders do pretty much as they please. Putin will do what’s in his and Russia’s best interest not what’s in Obama’s or the USA’s best interests

      On Friday the AU acted in its collective best interest by refusing to act on the arrest warrant the ICC has out for President al-Bashir of Sudan, if they were do what the ICC wants then who’d be next? Providing al-Bashir avoids North America, Europe and few other places nothing will happen to him, just like nothings happened to Mladic.

      N Korea fired off half a dozen scuds on America’s Independence Day, Ban Ki-moon went to Burma but couldn’t get to see Aung San Suu Kyi, Iran continues to develop its nuclear weapons capability, Israel continues to build settlements, Honduras deports its President and thumbs its nose at Obama and the OAS.

      Best thing Obama could do for Africa would be to end the US domestic agricultural subsidies, but that wouldn’t be in his or his parties best interests, so he wont do it.

    • 7 osuagwu
      July 6, 2009 at 06:25

      You have the correct diagnosis for African problems.What Africa needs badly is not deveolpment aids but getting rid of bad leaders leaders most of whom have held on to power despite loosing the polls.

  5. July 3, 2009 at 19:46

    First of all, the picture above show both Obama and Yaradua turn their backs from each other. Probably, Obama is waving hello to Ghana while Yaradua is smiling to the invisible departing Russiamania.

    Anyway, Africa should stop begging and begging…they should learn good government and start giving and giving…

  6. 9 anu_D
    July 4, 2009 at 06:50

    And what has come out of his visits to Egypt & Saudi…..
    or his extend our hand…unclench your fist speech to Iran ??
    Or he message of friendship to Chavez..
    Or message of new start to Putin…..

    Somebody tell him please the parrot needs to talk less and action more.
    and actions in matters of state and strategy are not carried out by talk-talk-talk… on air, in media, in news……

    ACTIONS are just DONE…and then talked about.

    Nothing will come out of this trip to Ghana…other than some grand wordsmithed recycled speeches


  7. 10 Deryck/Trinidad
    July 5, 2009 at 02:28

    Obama’s going to Africa doesn’t change anything unless the philosophy of the leaders and people in Africa change and they decide they want to chart their own destiny instead of having it being dictated to them by rich donor countries.

    The sad thing is that the world goes through cycles of boom and bust and African leaders do not learn from history and invest scientifically in their human resource, become more accountable and transparent and mitigate corruption. Instead leaders are affected by the malaise and moribundity that pervades Africa-corruption, self interest and poverty and they fail miserably, further impoverishing their people.

    They continually blame colonnialism and the ‘white man’ for their ills which is partly true. But it is time that Africans and African leaders rise like the proverbial Phoenix from the ashes of distruction and retake Africa not with guns but with new philosophies of the greatness of the African diaspora and articulate a vision for the people.

    This must be demonstrated in new modes of leadership i.e transformational and charismatic but grounded in the principles of transparency, accountability and probity.

  8. July 5, 2009 at 03:18

    Why would Obama agitate Dictators in African when they’re in authority from direct US involvement? These ‘dictators’ are Americas first line of defense and their best form of resistance for resistant clampdown if the population ever decides to subvert them. Obama has as much interest in bettering Africa as these autocrats.

    Africans have all the ‘AID’ and more right where we are, it’s actually right under us, under our feet for goodness gracious. It’s incredulous to believe that for hundreds of years we’ve been fooled by the west to recede our resources so they can refine it and subsequently ‘share the wealth’. These guys are not the type who slap you in your face and try to shake your hands, they continually slap us on our face with both hands without a concern to ease.

    Obama is just one man, it’s only because he’s entertaining the world with a world wide concert that we see nations turn to him for help. No offense to all the zealous democracy with-standers, but if democracy is only great when toy governments are erected which is the case in some parts Africa, then the he’ll with it.

  9. 12 Tan Boon Tee
    July 5, 2009 at 04:07

    \Instead of indulging in futile and wasteful wars, the US may as well save the war expenses and redirect the funds to help the multitude of needy in Africa.

    If that is the case, Obama’s visit to Africa will be most meaningful and significant. It will have the greatest impact on Africa’s future.

  10. 13 osuagwu
    July 5, 2009 at 06:19

    Africa is infested with lots of dictators and bad government.Obama must be at a loss on the issue of his visit to Africa. Kenya his father’s birth country is ruled by a man who literally robbed the election results. Nigeria the most populous African country is almost a failed state. The AU presidency if held by a dispotic dictator . It must be really difficult for obama to identify countries the American president can visit .

  11. July 5, 2009 at 17:40

    This article on Obama and Africa is very informative.
    Generally saying that ,All African countries will be watching of proposal of Obama!s visit to
    As per my wider views on African nations,they have tremendous natural resources, hard labour is available in plenty.
    But due to very old culture on many fields,inner spilit between many political parties,major corruption,lack of good housing,shelter,and lack of proper disaster management -all added African!s miseries.
    I think that Obama Will have fruitful dialogue with Ghana!s head of state and the possibilies of sanctioning more aids to these undeveloped countries.
    This is a welcome steps by Obama for enlarging new foriegn relations.

  12. 15 Ramesh, India
    July 5, 2009 at 19:17

    Obama is just not a result oriented president. He sounded a reconcilatiory note about Iran. What’s the progress? No doubt he is a very nice man personally when compared to many former presidents. He just can not go against the jewish lobby in america. Ao Africa, don’t expect too much from Obama just because he is black! After all, he is american in the first place!!

  13. 16 Khalif Hassan
    July 6, 2009 at 02:59

    As an African leaving in America in this trying times, I dont think Obama’s visit to Africa is of any benefit to say ordinary Ghanaians, Nigerians, South Africans, mozambicans etc.
    There are a lot of problems for Mr. Obama on the domestic front and I think that is where his preference lies at the moment. But knowing Obama very well, I would still think that he will make a big impression on the African population given his roots in the continent.
    Beware Obama; If you sound supportive of controversial issues like gay rights and abortion, ordinary Africans will turn their backs on you

  14. July 6, 2009 at 17:23

    Its no pessimism but I belief strongly that no body can actually change the situation in Africa but we Africans our selves. Pres Obama is unfortunately no exception to this fact. Infact, he may even make the situation worse; giving the fact that we Africans feel he is our brother therefore he must help us.
    As the problems with regard corruption, greed and wickedness moves right across the African society, His visit can make very little or no impact on the lives of ordinary Africans.
    Infact, even if the whole West come down to Africa, and all Africans move up to the West, Africans with the trend of things, will actually spoil the West and fight to come back to Africa.

    Let pres Obama stay in US and support projects on attitudinal change for African leaders.

  15. 18 David
    July 6, 2009 at 18:05

    What help does Africa want? Handouts in the form of Aid?

    I am going to give you some thing to think about:

    I am African living in Australia. I am a renowned Agricultural Scientist who retired about 3 years ago. I offered my service to African Union, firstly for free, to work in any part of Africa. To my surprise this offer was even never acknowledged! I wrote to the AU again, and similarly it was like the office does not exist! I am sure any educated Africans abroad would come home to Africa if given a chance.

    If African countries cannot accept an offer from one of their own, then what help do they want?

    Is Aid the only language Africa knows?

    Very Sad indeed

    As for Obama, he is an intelligent person. He knows what can make a difference in Africa. Let us listen very carefully. We may be able to find the mould among the pieces.

    • 19 RightPaddock
      July 6, 2009 at 19:36

      Perhaps those who run the AU ignored your offer because they couldn’t see a way to liquidate your offer of free labour so that they might trouser the proceeds.

  16. July 6, 2009 at 21:28

    Many africans and other persons around the globe may have a different view of obama’s visit to Ghana and why he even chose to visit Ghana and countries like South Africa OR perhaps Nigeria who are the economic powers of the continent. Certainly, every well-meaning person knows that no US president will land the Air Force 1 in any country just for visiting sake or the fun of it,but with the utmost priority being the interest of the american people at hand. But as a young patriotic ghanaian who feels the interest of ghanaians on any negotiating table must be paramount by our leader, it is also worth noting that almost all ghanaians are very happy about the visit regardless of any kind of behind doors agreements that go on. Mr Obama is the first african-american president of the most powerful nation on earth, a feat that many black-skinned people and even whites never imagined could ever come to pass and it highly obvious that when such a man is to visit any place comprising people of his ancestors, then you should expect this whole euphoria that’s going on to happen.I honestly don’t think ghanaians are really expecting the US president to come throw money as aid on us or waiting to have him come change the state of our economy,because we are all aware of the financial crisis the president himself has even got to fix back in the states. I entreat all and Americans alike to see this visit as the president buying into the notion that he will be very lenient and
    ‘grant-giver’ to africa,but should rather envision his trip as even a way of enhancing america’s image which has been dented in the last couple of years. Obama ; AKWAABA !! (obama ; welcome)

  17. 21 Khalif Hassan
    July 6, 2009 at 22:35

    The only thing Obama will say in his usual flowery speech is that African countries should embrace democracy and do away with bad governance, corruption and coups. And as leaders like Museveni, Gadaffi, Biyya of Cameroon, King Mswati and other African dictators watch him on television, they will remind Mr. Obama that George Bush Jr stole rigged elections when he contested with Mr. Al Gore, That Bernie Madoff, the old-time swindler is an American. They may even have the audacity to say that most of them came to power through support from America and some other western allies.
    I am certain he will also promise American aid through USAID. The African leaders will smile when he promises them cash they only know too well where it will end up. But I was always and still continue to oppose aid. It only helps to make Africans more reliant on foreign help and less dependant on themselves. We all know that even the choking aid comes with some silly caveats and conditions. while visiting Africa is a good gesture from a man who has a lot in common with ordinary Africans, I am afraid it wont bring any good to the poeple of Africa.

  18. 22 patrick Odadi
    July 7, 2009 at 10:52

    Africa is full of a bunch of leaders who are egostic and concern about being in power as opposed to being simple servants, they are largely seeking for their own good opposed to the comon good, in fact the post Africa Independence has so far produced only few LEADERS nyerere,mandela leopord senghor, Chissano qnd the for;er president of Botswanq the rest are dictactors and murderous and wants to stay in power for ever,
    Obama is very upright intelligent q true leader compqred to Lincolhn and kennedy that should not associqte himself with the likes of Africq dictators. President of Ghana is very upright a true leader and i think it wqs q good choice for obama to visit Ghana

  19. 23 Methusalem
    July 7, 2009 at 15:08

    Why are you all quick to bashing Africa and Africans all the time? Africans never protest, speak out loud or whine about everything, despite being oppressed brutally for a long time. Africans never take the World hostage or terroize it like the Muslim world does. Please stop using ignorant, foul words about Africa — Africa is developing well, and it is just doing fine in many aspects of life.

  20. 24 Khalif Hassan
    July 8, 2009 at 02:42

    With all due respect to Methusalem, I think the notion that the Muslim world does use terrorism to achieve its goals is wildly off the mark. While I admit that few Muslims are involved in terrorism but their actions doesnt symbolize everything Islam and everyone Muslim. We watched the horrific slaughter of Jews by Christian Nazis, The ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bosnia by Christian Serbs and the genocide in Rwanda was not perpetuated by Muslims.
    But to focus on the topic, I would still emphasize on the point that Africans need to stand up on their own and rely less on foreign support which often comes in the form of conditioned AID. While having someone of the caliber of Obama in the continent is a good thing but when he leaves and the dust settles, Africans will have to settle their own matters in their own unique African way

  21. 25 Karen
    July 10, 2009 at 20:56

    I wish Obama would stop giving American tax dollars to Africa. He needs to fix the American economy which is in a shambles. His stimulus is a failure because it wasn’t large enough and because they did not distribute it properly. I very much regret voting for Obama.

  22. July 11, 2009 at 17:50

    I have read all readers views on Obama!s visit to America.
    Africa is still divided on many counts.
    Pity to say that,South Africa is better,whereas,neighbouring countries are in poor states.
    Considerable Africans are In America.Especially from Kenya,lot of migrants are in good ways of life.
    Mr.Obama had promised to give more aids for their developments.
    Wherever,he goes,he gives good speeches and lot of promises to that countries.
    I think that,he has to clear lot of his country!s financial,health,educational problems by priority.
    Let us wait and watch his good actions for revival of American economy.

  23. 27 olu james
    July 15, 2009 at 04:42

    with all due respect for the visit of an American President to the Continent of Africa.I’ll start my assessments by pointing at colonialism,amalgamation,
    corruption,religion ism,tribalism,imperialism and so on,just to mention a few,personally i was disappointed with all the speeches of the so called first African American president,i want him to realize if he eventually denied he’s not an African he should just stop pretending about what his adopted country and the western imperialist has done to the continent of Africa.
    when money meant for the welfare and development of Africa is diverted to private and personal accounts of the looters,i want to ask those at the receiving end,i mean the U.S banks and E.U banks are not aware of those activities? still they hold num to all this atrocities ,meanwhile when we talk of democracy,those countries he visited like Saudi Arabia which a U.S president bow down to it Ruler for the first time in history of a U.S president. and Egypt. are they democratic countries?
    when it come to countries of the same color like the President,he bluff,nobody is an island or a monopoly of wisdom.what is happening in Africa,I’ll call it an act of God, in due time Africans will realize its potentials.

  24. 28 Ussene
    July 21, 2009 at 16:08

    I don`t hink that it`s a to trust Obama in helping african country because he is a descendent of an african.he only had work visity in nigeria not for helping and we african need to work hard for the cotinent development.

  25. August 15, 2009 at 14:56

    Obama is a wonderful President. At least, he has made AfricanS proud. For those ladies who want to marry anyone they love, they will never be judged with prejudices. I know of a white lady who wanted to marry me , but was afraid of his racist community that marrying a black man is suicidal. She was going to be rejected in London by her society. Now the coming up of a biracial president makes all women who want to marry anyone of a different race proud of their decisions. I salute Obama’s mother for marrying Obama’s father. She proved that love knows no race or colour. She was the most independent woman on earth to have married a black man when it was a taboo in most European states that time.I wish they could be more biracial marriages thats the only way out to racism.

    When I see Obama i see an independent Obamas mother.
    Whereever she is may her soul reast in peace for bearing us a President.

  26. August 16, 2009 at 12:03

    Good viewing of all contents.
    This is the right periods
    for Africans for getting aids from developed nations and it should go to real people
    Corruption,violence,pub culture,age old,out dated rules should go here after.
    Mr.Obama!s tasks are many for development of America!s economy.
    I hope that,he will overcome all hurdles by proper applications.
    I want all human beings to live peacefully and happily.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: