first African-owned U.S.-based professional newspaper to be published
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Nelson Mandela's political trinity: the man, the messiah and the mystique.
On the Prof. Chinua Achebe project, log on to www.Achebebooks.com
OBAMA named USAfrica MAN of the YEAR
Obama's Africa agenda, our business and democracy
By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfricaonline.com,
USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston
USAfricaonline.com and CLASS magazine and The Black Business Journal
USAfrica, Houston July 7, 2009:
From July 10 to 11, 2009, President Barack Obama will be in the west African country of Ghana, assessed by the U.S government as "one of our most trusted partners in sub-Saharan Africa." The additional goals of the visit, according to the Obama White House, will be "to highlight the critical role that sound governance and civil society play in promoting lasting development."
Obama becomes America's third president to visit Ghana since 1998, and this his second official trip to the African continent. The geo-demographic fact is that his first trip was to Egypt on June 4, 2009, where he spoke about Islam and democracy, rights of women in Islam and modern society, extremist variants of Islamic theologies and the challenge of peaceful co-existence. As Obama spoke carefully to the wider issues in the Middle East at the Cairo University, the same problems are faced in raw, stark and unvarnished reality by millions of Africa's christians and traditional religionists who are on the frontline and receiving end of fascistic, Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism.
Beyond the diplomatese, what will be the practical, key issues for Obama as he visits Ghana and speaks to the entire continent? What does it mean for Africans and Americans?
First and foremost, for many African-born citizens of America such as myself and millions of continental African professionals, Barack Hussein Obama is not only the 44th President of the United States of America, he's an outstanding son of Africa who on November 4, 2008, achieved the previously unthinkable: one of our own being voted in to lead the most powerful country in the world!
On January 20, 2009 in Washington DC, after the historic events of Obama's inauguration, I chatted with one of Obama's Africa advisers who said "Obama has witnessed the downside of one-party rule in Africa and he's not for that. He means change and more openness."
Signally, Obama's White House chose the small west African country of only 23 million peoples, spurning Ghana's neighbor, the "giant of Africa" Nigeria with its 125 million citizens and the largest economic demographic clout, questionable political leadership, endemic corruption, ethnic and religious violence, environmental destruction of its Niger Delta and creeks, political assassinations and kidnappings, epileptic electricity supply, and a list enough to fill the Galveston bay.
In this regard, Nobel Prize winner from Nigeria Wole Soyinka is quoted on USAfricaonline.com as saying: "If Obama decides to grace Nigeria with his presence, I will stone him. The message he is sending by going to Ghana is so obvious, is so brilliant, that he must not render it flawed by coming to Nigeria any time soon."
Second, Obama is in Ghana principally for America's core strategic interests: Oil. I know that oil and stable access to oil are vital parts of U.S national security interest across the west African Gulf of Guinea region. Ghana recently discovered billions of barrels of oil reserves. U.S corporations, especially Exxon Mobil and Chevron are also investing heavily in the area. Operationally, the U.S has re-fueling hubs in Ghana. Also, worthy of note is the US National Intelligence Council (NIC) estimates that by 2015, 25 percent of American oil imports will be derived from west Africa. It is roughly 14 to 16 percent to date, amidst massive disruptions in Nigeria's Niger Delta. Ghana is stable while the Middle East and parts of Nigeria are increasingly dicey for America's hard-nosed, long-term interests. Ghana is certainly valuable to the U.S convergence of interests on the arenas of military, oil and democratic credentials.
Third, the bilateral and bi-continental issue of fighting or containing al-Qaeda and its advances into Africa's "failed states" and actual threats to multi-religious and democratizing countries in the continent remain obligations of the Obama presidency. I have argued previously on this page that a police-law-enforcement approach to al-Qaeda in Africa will be inadequate. A bold, thorough-going draining of the swamp of radical, fundamentalist theologies which feed and fuel terrorism is necessary. Already the U.S and Ghana hold joint exercises at the funnily-named Jungle Warfare School (JWS) at Achiase in eastern Ghana.
Fourth, Obama has to speak to a "new foundation" for Africa's future amidst commendable deregulation in many parts of the continent. He has to speak to the strategic imperatives of creating a more viable structure of free market economies in Africa accommodating the realistic roles of government in the core issues of healthcare, education, security and such core, critical projects.
Africa's economies have made some bold structural changes but the political clutches of the ruling parties also stifle the ventilation of ideas and expansion of opportunities necessary to compete in this digital age. Internet access is the poorest and lowest in the world, except South Africa, Botswana and increasingly Nigeria and Kenya.
Fifth, Obama whose father is an indigenous scholarly Kenyan and mother is a resourceful White woman from Kansas will deal with the critical, clashing issue of aid or trade between the U.S and Africa. In my view, it should be both; it's not a choice of one over the other.
Africa development specialists, Obama and those before him agree that the wise words "Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime" applies to Africa's crises and transformation; moreso today.
The U.S reasonably propelled the the AGOA (Africa Growth and Opportunity Act) to enhance trade. I covered its historic signing ceremony in South Africa as championed by South Africa's former president Nelson Mandela and U.S former President Bill Clinton. Fair and equitable trade is good. AGOA reportedly increased the value of African garment exports to the U.S from US$580 million in 1999 to US$1.4 billion in 2003.
Sixth, I expect that on Saturday July 11, 2009, Obama will live up to the historical context of his being the first U.S President of African-American heritage by visiting the slave castles by the Cape Coast of Ghana. Ghana is pivotal to the ancestral origins of hundreds of thousands of enslaved Blacks whose heritage drew directly from that Cape, northern and central regions of Ghana. Similar historical, demographic facts exist for the south eastern Igbos of Nigeria, African-Americans and Afri-Caribbeans.
Overall, Obama's presidency should continue to support Africa's increasing coalition of democracy activists and pressurize the remnants of Africa's rulership to responsibly embrace and respect the value of fair, peaceful and free elections as opposed to the charade of self-perpetuation in office, choking indolence posing as mandate and selections masquerading as elections.
As Africans celebrate America's Obama, we look forward to our home-grown Obamas in Africa. Yes, we can!
Chido Nwangwu, recipient of the Journalism Excellence award (1997), is Founder and Publisher of USAfricaonline.com (first African-owned U.S.-based professional newspaper to be published on the internet), USAfrica The Newspaper, CLASS magazine and The Black Business Journal, USAfricaTV, AchebeBooks.com, and several blogs/e-groups, has been a participant at the World Technology Forum in San Francisco by PRI/BBC and contributing analyst to CNN's Inside Africa, VOA, and newspapers/sites. He has served as an adviser to the Mayor of Houston on international business (Africa) and appears as an analyst on CNN, VOA, NPR, CBS News, NBC and ABC news affiliates.
-- USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com (characterized by The New York Times as the largest and arguably the most influential African-owned, U.S-based multimedia networks) established May 1992, our first edition of USAfrica magazine was published August 1993; USAfrica The Newspaper on May 11, 1994; CLASSmagazine on May 2, 2003 and www.PhotoWorks.TV in 2005.
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USAfrica The Newspaper voted the "Best Community Newspaper" in the 4th largest city in the U.S., Houston. It is in the Best of Houston special as chosen by the editors and readers of the Houston Press, reflecting their poll and annual rankings.
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Investigating Marc Rich and his deals with Nigeria's Oil
Through an elaborate network of carrots and sticks and a willing army of Nigeria's soldiers and some civilians, controversial global dealer and billionaire Marc Rich, literally and practically, made deals and steals; yes, laughed his way to the banks from crude oil contracts, unpaid millions in oil royalties and false declarations of quantities of crude lifted and exported from Nigeria for almost 25 years. Worse, he lifted Nigeria's oil and shipped same to then embargoed apartheid regime in South Africa. Read Chido Nwangwu's NEWS INVESTIGATION REPORT for PetroGasWorks.com
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Bush's position on Africa is "ill-advised." The position stated by Republican presidential aspirant and Governor of Texas, George Bush where he said that "Africa will not be an area of priority" in his presidency has been questioned by USAfricaonline.com Publisher Chido Nwangwu. He added that Bush's "pre-election position was neither validated by the economic exchanges nor geo-strategic interests of our two continents." These views were stated during an interview CNN's anchor Bernard Shaw and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield had with Mr. Nwangwu on Saturday November 18, 2000 during a special edition of 'Inside Politics 2000.' Nwangwu, adviser to the Mayor of Houston (the 4th largest city in the U.S., and immigrant home to thousands of Africans) argued further that "the issues of the heritage interests of 35 million African-Americans in Africa, the volume and value of oil business between between the U.S and Nigeria and the horrendous AIDS crisis in Africa do not lend any basis for Governor Bush's ill-advised position which removes Africa from fair consideration" were he to be elected president. By Al Johnson
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Impeachment process shows Nigerian democracy "is alive... being tested." Nigeria's president retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo has said that the impeachment process shows that "democracy is alive, is being tested, and being tried.... What they (the legislators) have tried to do in the democratic way, which is not easy, would probably have been done by taking arms or by -- with bullets. So, but with democracy, of course, some people feel that this is the way this should be, and then I have an opportunity to defend myself. There is discussion. There is dialogue. There is a decision. There is fairness." He made these comments when he appeared on Tuesday September 17, 2002 on CNN International to discuss the issues of impeachment facing him, the allegations of corruption, abuse of the constitution and deployment of soldiers ina civilian environment which led to the "massacre of civilians" in Odi (Bayelsa) and Zaki Biam (Benue). On the charges by international human rights organizations and Nigerian media that his government has been involved in actions which have led to the deaths of thousands of Nigerians, the retired General gave a surprising answer. He was asked that "as many as 10,000 people, it's being reported, have been killed in Nigeria (in) communal rivalries, and the number is believed to be increasing. And people are saying that although President Obasanjo has done a lot of good for Nigeria, you're accused of not -- accused of failing to halt that spiraling violence."
Obasanjo: Let me say this to you, when you put the question
of 10,000 -- 10,000 people dying in Nigeria, of course, for
a population of over 120 million people...."
But USAfricaonline.com Founder and
recipient of the Journalism Excellence award (1997),
Nwangwu, who appeared on the same program as as a CNN
International analyst (Africa) pointed out that "when
(President Obasanjo) answered that in a country of 100
million that 10,000 people are said to have died, as if that
was a small number, that in itself reflects a disconnect
with the concerns of Nigerians. The second one is that when
the risk is civil disagreement, the police are required to
intervene in the country. And the deployment of the armed
forces of Nigeria requires at least some consultation,
however modest, with the parliament." Nwangwu,
former member of the editorial board of Nigeria's Daily
Times continued that "the third
factor that is equally important to underscore is that the
armed forces of Nigeria moved in for a punitive action
rather than just containing a civil
disagreement." He noted in USAfricaonline.com
backgrounder "it was revealing and interesting interesting
discussing Nigeria's issues with its leader - under the
current circumstances of an increasingly out-of-schedule
elections and the gathering storm of an impeachment process
by a majority of the members of the National Assembly,
predominantly by Obasanjo's party members." See
transcript of the CNN
International news program.
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