Magazine article New African

The Day Barack Obama Came to Town: Upon Barack Obama's Inauguration as the President of the United States, Hopes Were High That Change Was about to Come. but Those Hopes Have Been Dented by "Four Poor Years" of This Administration, and on His Visit to Africa, Africans Voiced Their Disappointment

Magazine article New African

The Day Barack Obama Came to Town: Upon Barack Obama's Inauguration as the President of the United States, Hopes Were High That Change Was about to Come. but Those Hopes Have Been Dented by "Four Poor Years" of This Administration, and on His Visit to Africa, Africans Voiced Their Disappointment

Article excerpt

AS THE FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT of the USA, Barack Obama is undoubtedly one of the world's most recognisable faces and among the most influential personalities of the modern day.

But when he visited South Africa in June, as part of a three-African-nation tour, the earth simply did not quake with his mighty presence. He was reduced to a very ordinary size.

A Gallup survey had also shown Obama losing popularity in Africa. In fact, apart from the visit being overshadowed by the failing health of the iconic Nelson Mandela, Obama's tour was met with three demonstrations staged in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town.

South African students, workers and other groups decided to give Obama a frosty welcome. Ahead of his visit, on 28 June, groups including South Africa's Communist Party, the Confederation of South African Trade Unions, South African Students Congress, and the South African Muslim Students Association, staged a protest in Pretoria. Hundreds attended the demo at a sports ground.

A day later, protestors picketed at the University of Johannesburg's Soweto Campus. Uniting under the banner, "UJ, no you can't honour Obama" coalition, the "Nobamas" protested animatedly. Students were specifically protesting against Urs conferment of an honorary degree on Obama. They considered the decision was reached in a "unilateral" and "hypocritical" fashion.

"As the University of Johannesburg," Levi Masete, Student Representative Council (SRC) leader told New African, "we reject the decision to honour a man that has made unpopular mistakes ... [and has] continued American imperialism." The UJ SRC withdrew its allotted five representatives from Obama's meeting with youth leaders.

Protestors also wanted Obama arrested for what they alleged were US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq; and its complicity in the Israeli's oppression of Palestinians.

"Our message is simple and straightforward: Obama should not have been allowed in our country," Joseph Moraliana, SACP treasurer for Gauteng province said.

"Obama is the opposite of Mandela, whom he says is his role model," he added.

Another protestor, Robert Ditlopo agreed. "What he stands for--Zionism and apartheid--is what leaders like Robert Sobukwe stood against," he said.

The campus is adorned with names of anti-apartheid fighters like Sobukwe. The campus itself is along Chris Hani Weg.

Ruwaidah Valley did not represent any organisation but came out on her own to swell the word against Obama. …

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