28 Jul 2015
The US president came calling on the 28th of July 2015. Obama stood on the rostrum inside the magnificent building that was offered to Africa by the Chinese to address the continent. As the brilliant orator that he is, Obama made a speech that resonated with the aspirations of many an African.
He spoke frankly on some of the ills that have been the cog in the wheel of progress on the continent notably corruption, bad governance, insecurity, intolerance and sit tight leaders.
Obama appears to harbor genuine goodwill towards Africa but we know the limitations of US presidents. America is like a huge moving conveyor belt. Presidents can only wriggle within the conveyor belt without changing significantly the direction of the movement of that belt. American Foreign policy is inextricably linked to the pursuance of American interest. History teaches us that developing countries have never had it easy when American interests clash with their aspirations.
One of the biggest destabilizing factors on the continent which Obama failed to mention is the fallout from the NATO orchestrated war on the Gaddafi regime of Libya in 2011. The assassination of Gaddafi and the destabilization of Libya will remain the most visible blot on the presidency of Obama from the African perspective. Obama must certainly be uncomfortable when he sees the negative multiplier effects of the toppling and killing of Gaddafi on the continent.
Regardless of some of his shortcomings, Barack Obama is one of the finest presidents that America has produced. We on the African continent are proud of him not just because he is one of us but because he is a role model for all of humanity. When it comes to solving Africa’s problems, we listen to his ideas with reservations not because we doubt his integrity but because the interest of the country he represents may not be compatible with most of the aspirations of Africans.
Njei Moses Timah