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Posted on on July 12th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

If President Obama wanted to show Africa that he appreciates those states that made democracy a way of governing, he had just two choices before him – these were Ghana and Botswana.

His clear intent was to go to Sub-Sahara, or black Africa, as this is the area from which people were brought to America as slaves, but these people contributed immensely to the powerhouse America has   become – so, stopping for 21 hours in Accra, with his wife, children and mother in law – descendants of slaves – he also spoke to America – see that is part of our roots – no less then Europe!

His previous trip to the African continent was to Cairo – but that was clearly a trip to the Arab world – Egypt and Saharan Africa are part of that world and not part of black Africa, even though in L’Aquila he had to shake the hand of Libya’s Muamar Gaddafi whom the States of all Africa appointed as the head of the African Union. Clearly that meeting had nothing to do with democracy nor with roots of America – even though it had one moment of grace – Libya, for whatever reasons, like South Africa and Brazil, are states that could have developed nuclear arms, but withdrew from doing so.

The stopover in Accra was, we think so, the only one positive event of this week-long Presidential trip overseas. This was a redeeming grace for the week and highlighted the statement that the President will in the future look forward to a decrease in large Summits that are too big to produce any good. From our point of view in effect counterproductive and just an increase of unjustifiable CO2 emissions.

We wonder even if the increase in the figure of an additional $5 Billion earmarked for Africa by the donors of the OECD could not have have been achieved in phone calls or by e-mails to Canada and the EU.


Obama Wins More Food Aid but Presses African Nations on Corruption

Jason Reed/Reuters
President Obama and the first lady greeted President John Atta Mills of Ghana and his wife, Ernestina Naadu Mills, left, in the capital, Accra, on Friday.

Obama Wins More Food Aid but Presses African Nations on Corruption
Group of 8 powers meeting in L’Aquila, Italy, for larger donations to the aid effort, citing his own family’s experiences in Kenya. As a result, the initiative grew from $15 billion over three years, which was pledged coming into the summit meeting, to $20 billion.

At a news conference afterward, Mr. Obama said that when his father came to the United States, his home country of Kenya had an economy as large as that of South Korea per capita. Today, he noted, Kenya remains impoverished and politically unstable, while South Korea has become an economic powerhouse.

“There had been some talk about the legacies of colonialism and other policies by wealthier nations,” he said, “and without in any way diminishing that history, the point I made was that the South Korean government, working with the private sector and civil society, was able to create a set of institutions that provided transparency and accountability and efficiency that allowed for extraordinary economic progress, and that there was no reason why African countries could not do the same.”

He also criticized the culture of corruption in some African countries, saying that those who wanted to start a business or get a job there “still have to pay a bribe.” While wealthy nations must help, he said, poorer countries “have an obligation” to reform themselves.

Mr. Obama said his thinking had been affected in part by conversations with his relatives who still lived in Kenya. “They themselves are not going hungry, but live in villages where hunger is real,” he said. “And so this is something that I understand in very personal terms.”

Other American presidents have called on African countries to take more responsibility for their countries’ problems and have pressed them to fight corruption, but none with Mr. Obama’s background. Just one generation removed from Africa himself, he occupies a powerful place in the African consciousness.


“No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the port authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, and now is the time for it to end.”
– PRESIDENT OBAMA,     on the need for reform in Africa.


Obama Delivers Call for Change to a Rapt Africa

Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
President Obama addressed the Ghanaian Parliament at the Accra International Conference Center on Saturday.
President Obama traveled in Africa as a potent symbol of a new era but also as a messenger with a theme of responsibility.

Text of Obama’s Speech in Ghana

Obama in Africa: Welcome Back, Son. Now Don’t Forget Us.


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