The majority of continental Africans and people of African descent have been euphoric at the meteoric rise of Barack Obama. For the second time in history -after the lesser known candidacy of the African-American Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm in 1972-a black person has become a credible candidate for the presidency of the most powerful country in the world. Obamania has surged in Ghana, Jamaica, Trinidad, Cameroon, Kenya and elsewhere. It has produced a number of musical tributes, articles, blogs and important sentiments such as those expressed by the Congolese rapper, Youssoupha, who lives in Paris: "Obama tells us everything is possible."
Certainly one of the positive impacts of the Obama campaign is that in France it has given Africans there-once referred to by President Nicholas Sarkhozy as "scum"-a new political confidence to revisit Negritude. Raising a frank dialogue about race and racism in wider French society in which African people are invisible, is also a positive outcome of Obama's political success.
Similarly, in many Latin American countries where there is a significant African population and people of mixed ancestry, Obama's campaign is giving them the impetus to fight their invisibility in societies that deny any connection with African identity other than exoticised African dances.
What is at the heart of the Obama appeal? Undoubtedly, his bi-racial ancestry appeals across the "colour line"'; his ability to communicate the need for change and a universal health system for low income Americans; his suave hand some image in a society obsessed with looks; his political articulation and freshness. For many adulatory African-Americans, continental Africans and people of African descent, Obama's political rise is an illustration that anyone can make it. Whilst the right to vote in America, Britain, South Africa and elsewhere was a long bitter struggle by people of colour and the working classes who were politically and economically disenfranchised, there comes a time when voting becomes a useless exercise that effects little or no change-particularly when the choice becomes one of which two political parties can manage the liberal capitalist system more efficiently in favour of the rich in order to permanently exclude the poor?
Or to put it in the way Malcolm X would have: there is no real difference between the Democratic "fox" and the Republican "wolf". One is prepared to frighten the people so badly that they will wholeheartedly embrace the sly fox to escape the fangs of the wolf. In short, this does not avoid the fact that one will be eaten. If 1 was an American citizen (I am not! I am a British citizen of Ghanaian nationality!) I would have profound reservations in voting for Obama because his political stance on a number of issues reveals his ideological vision of America which remains one that continues America's grand imperialistic role and the place of the Democratic Party in serving that role. Many of us are too intoxicated with, if not blinded by, the euphoric idea of having a black American President to see this.
Some may consider that Obama's policies on Africa will be more favourable to the continent in terms of trade. Also, under an Obama presidency, there may be more generous assistance in the vein of the Bush administration via the Millennium Challenge Account.
However, it is clear that Africa has increased in strategic importance to America since 9/11. Especially significant is the African Command, or Africom, set up by George Bush in 2007. Its aims are to secure further energy supplies in Africa i.e. oil for America and to continue the global war on terror.
Obama is known to be favourable to Africom. Yet, fundamentally, Africom will spell the increasing and dangerous militarisation of the African continent in the service of America's wider national security interests as outlined in the disturbing 2002 document entitled The National Security Strategy of the United States. …