Magazine article New African

How Obama Has Failed Africa & the Essence of African Unity

Magazine article New African

How Obama Has Failed Africa & the Essence of African Unity

Article excerpt

Professor Molefi Kete Asante (pictured, right), chair of the Department of African-American Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, is one of the most distinguished contemporary scholars. His work on African culture and philosophy and African-American education is often cited by the intellectual establishment. Our Editor-at-Large, Baffour Ankomah, caught up with him to get his views on Barack Obama's America, the #blacklivesmatter issue, African unity, Afrocentricity and much more.

Q: Let me begin with the US. This year and last year, there have been a lot of killings of African-Americans in a country headed by the first African-American president. What's happening?

A: What's happening? It is what is called rearguard action. I think white people in the US are very upset that they lost leadership of the presidency, and so they are taking their anger out on almost every black person they feel they can take it out on. There has certainly been a much more vicious period of attack on black people in the past than now.

But I think what is happening has a lot to do with the Obama administration. President Obama was not elected by a majority of white people. He didn't [even] get 50% of the white vote. So I think white people are saying: "He is not our president, therefore we will attack his people or the people who look like him. And he cannot stop us.

Q: Are you suggesting that there is a conspiracy against Obama by white folk?

A: Of course, there has always been since he was elected. I don't think that they intended for him to be elected, but once he was elected, they didn't know what to do. Part of it was the legislature, which simply said he was not going to get the laws passed. It was like, if they [had a choice of] cutting their noses off to spite their faces, they would say we would rather have no faces at all so we would cut our noses off, because we don't want him to get any credit or honour. But although I think he has had a rough time, he has nevertheless [also] made some bad policies on Africa. But the whites don't see that, they see him just as a black man.

It seems to me too, he has been badly served by some of his advisors (some of whom are black), who know almost nothing about Africa. I don't know what Susan Rice knows, I don't know what Johnnie Carson knows. Yet these people have served in his administration. I did African studies for almost 40 years, and I never ran into these people. They must have been civil servants who came up through the civil service. In fact, what is very ironic is that many of the African leaders that I have met, Olusegun Obasanjo for example, even Abdoulaye Wade, all liked Condoleezza Rice much better than Susan Rice because they thought that George Bush the son had a better policy towards Africa. I was baffled by that! George Bush?! But they liked Condoleezza Rice and not Susan Rice because they think Susan Rice got it wrong. I agree with that.

Q: So you think Obama has served the interests of white supremacy?

A: I don't think he has intentionally done that, but I think by serving as the head of the empire and not trying to counter the negative policies towards Africa, he has served the interests of white supremacy. I like him, I voted for him twice. I think he is a brilliant man, he is probably the smartest president the US has had in my time. I think that he felt he could work with white people, that he could trust them to see rational ideas and move on, but they basically said, "We are not going to give you anything, we are not going to support you on anything."

And he did not have the courage, particularly in the first term, to simply call their bluff and do things that could be beneficial to black people and the African people. I think that was his big failure, a big failure in the sense that he didn't want to be seen to be leaning towards Africa. This is where white supremacy wins. He should have leaned towards Africa. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.