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Rapping Clinton swings through Africa

By Owei Lakemfa
HILARY Rodham Clinton the 67th American Secretary of State swung through seven African  countries in 11 days  ending  August  14. She was like an old conservative headmistress scoring her pupils in examinations she had not conducted, and making remarks on their moral conduct and fitness.

Her first call was in  Kenya the ancestral home of her boss, President Barack Obama. Kenya had following its December 2007 elections witnessed an orgy of violence which claimed over 1,300 lives. She told the elites that improving democracy is the key to boosting trade and that investors will not be attracted to states with civil unrest or failed leadership. After taking a few dance steps  at a dinner party in Nairobi, she flew to South Africa.

Regarded as the strongest  country economically and militarily in the continent, she treated its government led by Jacob Zuma with respect; discussing as partners on how to reform international institutions for the benefit of all countries.

She sought Zuma’s  views on regional matters like Zimbabwe where the anti-imperialist  ZANU party holds sway,  Sudan where a genocidal regime is in charge and Somalia, a failed state. After courtesies to the legendary Nelson Mandela, she was off to Angola.

Her remarks in Angola which  were around  governace  could not be expansive; this was a country the US and its allies including Holden Roberto, Jonas Savimbi and the defunct  Aparthied South African state had tortured with needless and seemingly endless civil wars until internationalist Cuban soldiers intervened and turned the tide in favour of the Angolan people.

Clinton’s next stop was  the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), one of the richest mineral-possessing countries in the continent which the Belgians, Americans , their mercenaries and stooges like Mobutu Seseseko, Joseph Kasavubu and Moise Tshombe turned into a failed state within three months of its June 30,1960 independence.

Here, she addressed one of the fallouts of that tragedy; the large scale rape of girls and women. On meeting the rape victims she cried that these crimes must be prosecuted and punished. Unfortunately, these crimes are deregulated and only the restoration of peoples power across the country can stop them.

Next stop was the self-declared “Giant of Africa”  Nigeria. Ironically, the country’s officials, wounded by Obama’s choice of small Ghana as the country to visit, worked and hoped for a high profile visit; but after Clinton’s visit, they started bellyaching.

She had noted the absurdity of the  sixth largest producer of crude oil in the world  importing petroleum products for its domestic consumption. Asking the  “giant” to learn  the judicious utilization of resources  from  little Botswana, she declared that “ investors will not be attracted to states with  failed or weak leadership, crime and civil unrest or corruption that taint every transaction and decision”.

In the country proper, Clinton fired from all cylinders. “The most immediate source of the disconnect between Nigeria’s wealth and its poverty is a failure of governance at the Federal, state and local levels. The lack of transparency and accountability has eroded the legitimacy of government and contributed  to the rise of groups that embrace violence and reject the authority of the state”.

Nigeria with all its oil and gas, she said, lacks electricity; that despite its estimated two million barrels of oil a day, the poverty rate is 76 per cent and that according to the World Bank, corruption and related problems have cost the country  $300 billion in the past three decades.

Then, perhaps buoyed by an excited  audience, she went into over drive: The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), she claimed, which had been “…doing  good  work in the past has fallen back in the past one year”.

Although she received applause, her claims were not backed by verifiable facts; she seems to have the gut feeling that that the current effeminate leadership of the organisation  is less effective than the cow-boyish   leadership of the EFCC under Nuhu  Ribadu. After telling Nigerians mainly what they already know , and a few more knocks  on the ruling elites, she flew into friendlier arms in Liberia.

Liberia, a country  ex-Americans helped to establish is currently presided over by the continent’s only female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.  An unapologetic  American stooge, she had gotten rid of her main opponent, Charles Taylor by conniving with then Nigerian president, Olusegun  Obasanjo and the George W. Bush administration in America to abduct him in his Nigerian exile and hand him over  to an “international” court for conviction.

Clinton praised Sirleaf to high heavens, including imbuing her with economic prowess (contrary to the reality in the country) and the implementation of a “positive progressive agenda”.

In contrast to the Nigerian leadership, she told Sirleaf that the US has “ …confidence in your capacity (and)  your competence to deliver”. Clinton said that Liberia which had witnessed a 14-year civil war is a guide to other countries transiting from conflict.

Then she flew to Cape Verde, the homeland of the legendary Pan Africanist, Amilcar Cabral. Here she met Prime Minister Jose Maria Pereira and held up  the country as an African success story.

America  regards Africa as part of her sphere of influence, so the tour is no indication that the Obama administration has high regard for the continent. Most of Clinton’s comments during the tour would have no effect particularly in  Nigeria where  her remarks were like pouring water in a basket.

Three days after her comments in Nigeria where she urged respect for the ballot box, the senatorial re-run in Ekiti State was essentially about  thuggery,  violence and awarding the election to the same ruling party candidate the courts found to have rigged the previous election.

Clinton  detected  a faint hope in Kenya, showed respect in South Africa, had apprehension in Angola, saw  in DRC crimes against humanity to be apprehended, success stories in Liberia and Cape Verde and bewilderment in Nigeria . To her, she had spread a “tough love” message.


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