Obama Visit, Africa Rising But Still Ignored

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Obama Visit, Africa Rising But Still Ignored

Africa Rising, but still ignored.
President Obama is on his second visit to Africa, his choice of nations to visit was tricky, he avoided Kenya, the land of his father and chose nations that were safe. A state visit by an American president is seen as a papal blessing to his visitors, Macky Sall of Senegal basked in the glow of Obama, he was hailed as a new leader that represents Africa. South Africa is still in the grip of anticipation concerning Mandela’s critical health, his next trip is to Tanzania where he hopes to state the case for USA compared to China. A good Gado cartoon depicted Obama landing in Africa to be greeted by Chinese people, he looks to his pilot “Are you sure we’re in Africa?” and the Chinese say “Welcome to Africa. Media is reporting that Obama is here to lecture Africa on Gay Rights, that illustrates the disconnect between the West and Africa, China is all about business while the West is about social engineering. Obama can only reflect the issues dominating in his country, Gay Rights are top of the agenda there, they pay handsomely to his coffers.

What will it take? What is it going to take to get 1 billion people to the top of the agenda of the West? Africa lags in the conscious of America, it is an afterthought, John Kerry was asked what it will take for this continent to be part of any future strategic planning, like Israel is. He said Africa is important yada yada, but we know it is not viewed as such. We are still viewed as a humanitarian themepark, with starving black babies with flies in their mouths and big rounded bellies, crazy rebels who rape, kill, steal and corruption. It goes deeper than that, some westerners think every African hunts zebras for breakfast. Out of sight, out of mind, when we are in sight we are the same stereotypes, noble savages. In Africa we are having a revival, not everyone is benefitting, it is not equal but we are growing. Just the optimism is contagious, the web chat-rooms are buzzing, every instagram photo show Africa on the rise. China sees it, CCTV says “We are about to show you the unlimited energy, dynamism and power of Africa!!” Fists in the air.

African lobby – we need to plug into the political systems of the West, to feed into their corruption, to donate to their lobbies, hire activists, grease the sweaty palms of nervous congressmen who are short of campaign funds. We think Obama is our president because of his blood but he isn’t, we never got him elected, in fact Africa was a liability to him as extreme Republicans questioned whether he was ever born in America, they claimed he was born in Kenya. Add to that the tanking economy and he had no time for Africa of he’d look like he didn’t care. We need an Africa lobby, just $100m donated to certain strategic candidates could increase the funding to Africa, even better they can facilitate technology transfer. Cheese-makers have a lobby, walnut-growers, welders, Cherokee Indians, all have lobbies, Africa does not. Even if we did we couldn’t agree on the agenda for it, but our problems are all the same, instead of Bill Gates, Bono, Bob Geldolf, Madonna and Angelina Jolie talking for us, we can speak for ourselves.

African-Americans are the key to this, we have to reconnect with all Blacks in the Diaspora, we have something they need desperately – identity. We can reconnect with them and help them rediscover their identity and we can benefit by uplifting each other. That was the original goal of the Pan-African movement, it started in the West and fed back to Africa, the goal was to heal both sides and form an economic basis for self-determination. Blacks in America are worth almost 1 trillion, Oprah alone is worth 3 billion, and we are begging for $200m loans in exchange for our dignity. The Israel lobby is hated but it is organised, nothing will harm its interests, we should do that too, we have to be engaged or we will be ignored.

Rama Isibo

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