USAfrica: Obama makes inclusiveness, democracy in Africa as part of his 2nd term agenda
USAfrica, January 21, 2013: Before a crowd of almost 800,000, U.S President Barack Obama set forth for his 2nd term an agenda of inclusiveness, care for those who built America decades ago, an enhanced
support for immigrants who seek a better future and support for democratic strivings across the world, a determination to keep America, in his lofty words, as an “anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe.”
The 51-years old Obama added a promise that “We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.”
For many in Africa, especially, its public policy types, the modest mention of his father’s home continent of Africa, is a reminder of the historic struggles by Africans for better days, away from the brutal, deadly battles of ballots versus bullets.
Recall that from July 10 to 11, 2009, President Barack Obama visited the prosperous 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, was “to highlight the critical role that sound governance and civil society play in promoting lasting development.”
Obama became America’s third president to visit Ghana since 1998, and 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, the practical, key issues for Obama as he visited Ghana and spoke to the entire continent were many 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!
And, on January 20/21 2013, Obama’s historic swearing for a 2nd term as America’s President extended history’s diversity and reach.
On January 20, 2009 in Washington DC, after the historic events of Obama’s first inauguration which I attended and covered, 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, at the time: “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 highlights Africa and picked Ghana, for many reasons, 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 continue speaking for 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, credible democratic and business 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) in the 1990s 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 and his other commendable strides of historic achievements, we look forward to our home-grown Obamas in Africa. Yes, we can, too! Or…. •Dr. Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of Houston-based USAfrica multimedia networks since 1992, first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com; CLASSmagazine, the USAfrica-powered e-groups of Nigeria360, IgboEvents, UNNalumni, PhotoWorks.TV and recipient of several journalism and public policy awards, was recently profiled by the CNN International for his pioneering works on multimedia/news/public policy projects for Africans and Americans. http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/international/2010/07/29/mpa.african.media.bk.a.cnn
Nigeria’s Federal Republic of Insecurity. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica, USAfricaonline.com and the Nigeria360 e-group. https://usafricaonline.com/2011/12/17/nigeria-federal-republic-of-insecurity-by-chido-nwangwu/ : IF any of the Nigerian President’s 100 advisers has the polite courage for the extraordinary task of reminding His Excellency of his foremost, sworn, constitutional obligation to the national interest about security and safety of Nigerians and all who sojourn in Nigeria, please whisper clearly to Mr. President that I said, respectfully: Nigerians, at home and abroad, are still concerned and afraid for living in what I call Nigeria’s Federal Republic of Insecurity. FULL text of commentary at USAfricaonline.com https://usafricaonline.com/2011/12/17/nigeria-federal-republic-of-insecurity-by-chido-nwangwu/
• Nigeria’s bin-Laden cheerleaders could ignite religious war, destabilize Africa. By USAfrica’s Publisher Chido Nwangwu. https://usafricaonline.com/chido.binladennigeria.html http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=USAfrica+Chido+Nwangwu+al-qaeda+terrrorism+nigeria&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 https://usafricaonline.com/tag/al-qaeda/ 310 killed by Nigeria’s ‘talibans’ in Bauchi, Yobe n Maiduguri; crises escalate. USAfricaonline.com on July 28, 2009. www.usafricaonline.com/chido.ngrtalibans09.html http://www.groundreport.com/World/310-killed-by-Nigerias-talibans-in-Bauchi-Yobe-n-M/2904584
Obama’s Africa agenda, our business and democracy. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfricaonline.com and CLASS magazine and The Black Business Journal
USAfrica: As Egypt’s corrupter-in-chief Mubarak slides into history’s dustbin. By Chido Nwangwu. https://usafricaonline.com/2011/01/30/chido-nwangwu-as-egypt-corrupter-in-chief-mubarak-slides-into-historys-dustbin-egyptians-not-waiting-for-obama-and-united-nations/
Tunisia, Egypt . . . Is Nigeria next? By Prof. Rosaire Ifedi https://usafricaonline.com/2011/02/13/tunisia-egypt-is-nigeria-next-by-prof-rosaire-ifedi/
Related insight: USAfrica’s October 17, 2001 special report/alert: Nigeria’s bin-Laden cheerleaders could ignite religious war, destabilize Africa. By USAfrica’s Publisher Chido Nwangwu. https://usafricaonline.com/chido.binladennigeria.html
• For seasoned insights and breaking news on these issues, log on to USAfricaonline.com and USAfrica powered e-groups including USAfrica at googlegroups. Follow us at Facebook.com/USAfricaChido, Facebook.com/USAfrica247 n Twitter.com/Chido247
Related and prior reporting on the Jos crises on USAfrica, click here: https://usafricaonline.com/2011/08/16/10-killed-in-renewed-violence-near-jos/
News archives related to Jos, here https://usafricaonline.com/?s=jos
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• For seasoned insights and breaking news on these issues, log on to USAfricaonline.com and USAfrica powered e-groups including Nigeria360 at yahoogroups and USAfrica at googlegroups. Follow us at Facebook.com/USAfricaChido and Twitter.com/Chido247