By Ochieno, Joseph
New African , No. 531
US President Barack Obama has--at last--concluded his highly anticipated trip to Africa. Typically, the journey that took him to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania, was not without suspicion, criticism, complaints and in some ways, disappointment.
First, Nelson Mandela's unfortunate illness threatened to overshadow the show. Nelson Mandela is the world's most popular politician and former president; Barack Obama is the world's most powerful individual as US president--so just imagine how prized a photo opportunity that would he. But it was never meant to be.
One key point that was raised was why it took this long for Obama to visit--as if US leaders are "elected" to serve Africa. We must sort out our political and economic mess before we can become a strategic partner. Otherwise, we only serve as a region of "strategic interest". Until then, we will continue to receive the last call at the high table. American leaders do not determine "strategic interests" or partners, their thinkers, "systems", institutions and "interests" of the day do.
Unfortunately for Barack Obama, his "love" for Africa had to be tested against the record of Bill Clinton, and even George W Bush, disregarding time and the behind-the-scenes campaigns and lobbying that pushed the US (whoever was president at the time) into supporting programmes for HIV/Aids and malaria on the continent.
While in certain circles in Africa you will be told George Bush "loves" Africa more than Barack Obama, dig deeper and you will find men and women of privilege, who shamelessly looted money donated to Africa while the continent's children and their mothers died in their thousands. That is Africa - where millions continue to wait for America to "elect" a president for them.
But the biggest challenge and balancing act Obama had to face was whether or not to visit Kenya--his native homeland in every sense but political legality. The explanation that he has visited Kenya several times before, simply did not wash. …