"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


yesterday's vision

The full text of Barack Obama's speech to Ghana's Parliament can be found here. You can read a sample of opinions on the speech (mostly from Africans and other observers abroad) at the BBC.

Briefly, I'll just say that the speech was not surprising and not particularly interesting in that it contained nothing new beyond the reflections of an American president who has a Kenyan father. Obama's speech presented the same line that American leaders have been delivering to African states since the end of the Cold War: be democratic, stop being corrupt, embrace market capitalism, stop fighting with one another, and we'll help you deal with disease. It was in no way on par with his masterful speech to the Muslim world in Cairo a few weeks ago, nor was it especially inspiring.

There was a slight shift in tone in some of Obama's remarks to the effect that the purpose of international aid programs should have the aim of becoming unnecessary as local leaders take responsibility for their own communities' development trajectories, as well as a discussion of African entrepreneurship and the continent's potential to contribute to green energy use throughout the world. These are welcome. But overall, the speech was just one more iteration of yesterday's American vision for Africa. It iterated the standard problems (HIV/AIDS, Congo, Darfur, and Zimbabwe - with the notable absence of any mention of northern Uganda, unless the oblique reference to "forc[ing] children to kill in wars") and included the oft-repeated point that "Africa’s future is up to Africans." It did not, however, represent much in the way of novel thinking about America's relationship to the continent's country and people.

What are your thoughts on the speech?


Anonymous Sean said...

Hey I am on blogging haitus, but it does not mean I stop writing.

I agree on the nothing new argument.

I wrote a piece for the Nigerian newspaper, NEXT.com

See here:


Monday, July 13, 2009 11:50:00 AM


Post a Comment

<< Home