Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Blowback from Obama in Ghana

Judging by posts from African bloggers, many African intellectuals were disappointed with Barack Obama's speech to Parliament in Ghana. My own perception of the speech was that it was not that well crafted and showed a lack of deep scholarship and preparation uncharacteristic of Mr. Obama.

I thought that our president looked a bit nervous at points in the delivery, particularly when he defended AFRICOM. I was also surprised to hear outdated views on agricultural development in the section where he promised a "green revolution" for sub-Saharan Africa. Clearly, the Obama administration needs to bring on board some scientists and historians with a deeper knowledge of the developing world and of Africa in particular.

While many may have wanted to hear an apology from our president for mistakes which the United States has made in the post-colonial era, I believe that Obama is rather to be commended for his clear discussion of the role which African elites have played in the continued subjugation and impoverishment of Africa's people. As Barack Obama has himself observed to progressive forces here in the United States, it is our responsibility to push back and challenge him when he compromises with the forces of oppression.


Below are links to some of many posts on this topic by African bloggers:

"Obama Talks Shallow Simplistic Rubbish, Scolds & Lectured Africans As Expected!" by Paul I. Adujie

"Ghana - No antibodies for this virus" by Akin

"The glaring omission" by Solomonsydelle

"Obama shallow and condescending in Ghana?" by Imnakoya


"Obama in Ghana" by Beauty

"It wasn't me" by pyoo wata

The "change we need"? Obama in Ghana by Charles Abugre

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8 Comments:

At 9:47 AM , Blogger SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

"the speech ... was not that well crafted and showed a lack of deep scholarship and preparation uncharacteristic of Mr. Obama."

I read your comment at my blog and thought to come on over and learn more about your opinion.

Yes, Obama gave a nice speech and shared a lot that many have been discussing with regard to Africa's political elite. The discussion the speech has sparked is a good one and I hope it will somehow transcend into more meaningful action to benefit those who need change the most.

I'm curious to know what writers have asked for an apology from the U.S. (as you mention/suggest). I am yet to come across any but would be interested in reading their thoughts.

May I recommend Pyoowata's post on the Obama speech for your reading as well? It raises some interesting points about model minorities and other issues.

 
At 10:16 AM , Blogger Don Thieme said...

I may have overstated the case based upon a few posts. The one by Paul Adujie was definitely negative, and I believe that there was another on the Nigeria Village Square. There was also a great deal of negative discussion from the progressive community about the choice of Ghana before the speech. It was suggested that the discovery of oil in Ghana motivated the choice.

 
At 10:16 AM , Blogger Don Thieme said...

I just added the post by pyoo wata, which is excellent and seems to express what I had characterized as an "African intellectual" perspective.

 
At 10:19 AM , Anonymous Kari said...

I appreciate you providing some links to further discussions on the event. My feelings seemed to mirror your comments on the speech but I am hoping to hear more from the perspective of others, particularly people with closer ties to the Ghana.
Thank you for sharing the same and thank you to SOLOMONSYDELLE for the additional resources.

 
At 4:42 PM , Anonymous Beauty said...

Why do we need AFRICOM? The Niger-Delta war is not a conflict of area boys gone mad as Obasanjo and others would have us believe as it spreads under Yardie. High tech Intel from Africom will show who actually controls oil bunkering in Nigeria. Is this why people are against the idea of Africom? The talk should now move away from the US President´s visit and focus on the real issues. How does an oil tanker, well, just disappear? Who benefits from keeping Nigeria in the dark ages?

 
At 8:05 PM , Blogger Don Thieme said...

@Beauty - I would not expect that AFRICOM will be of any help to the people of Nigeria in overcoming the corruption of Nigerian politicians. If you want to obtain better technology or intelligence, that can be hired out from private consultants. American military involvement in foreign countries never seems to benefit the people there or reduce corruption.

 
At 9:14 AM , Anonymous Beauty said...

Previous US admins are not this serious guy called Obama. Of course he has issues in Washington but Africa needs Africom is my point. China is riding shotgun with really frightening guns and that is the beginning of hell to come. What is there in Africa to check that invasion? Africans in numbers? African leaders that do not know how high is high? Corruption is everywhere but people do not steal 100% of the cash as they do in Nigeria.

The Niger-Delta is a logistics nightmare but when you have a pair of willing hands to take on your problems, it does not make sense to refuse. unless, of course, you are hiding something. Who is going after those badges that fills up the tankers? Who owns the tankers getting filled up? Nigerians and other Africans should be talking about how to engage with Africom rather than closing the door. Remember that serious guy that visited Ghana.

 
At 11:02 AM , Blogger Don Thieme said...

@Beauty - Our U.S. military and political system are not the direct embodiment of our president, no matter what "great man" we elect. There are international agreements to prevent intervention in the affairs of a sovereign state for good reason. The UN or OAU would be more appropriate institutions to accomplish the best parts of the AFRICOM proposal.

 

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