PRESIDENT Barack Obama of the USA told Africans the truth that we have often failed to imbibe, “Africa’s future is up to Africans”.

He admitted the role that colonialism has played in Africa’s current situation. It is obvious that most of the problems of the continent today derive more from daft and greedy leadership that accounts to itself.

Statistics of development of countries like South Korea which Obama contrasted with Kenya about four decades ago, when Kenya was ahead, deny the fact the helping hand of the USA, was the factor that mitigated the corruption and poor leadership of the Koreans, Korea and most Asian countries would not have got far on their own with the exceptional poor leadership.

With the distinct exception of Singapore, no Asian country has had a remarkable leadership in the era Obama reviewed.

Disease and conflict ravage parts of the African continent as they do in Asia and most of Latin America. None of these have been reasons for people in those places not to live better than most Africans.

The recognition he accorded Ghana’s efforts to put democracy on a firmer footing was well deserved, Yet the argument flies in the face of the fact that America does not form deep relationships with countries on bases of democracy or good governance.

Development depends upon good governance, Obama said.  We agree. He should have given his fuller views on democracy and good governance.

For every American regime, democracy and good governance mean governments that protect American interests. Any government that ignores American interests is undemocratic.

America’s best ally in Africa is Egypt. Is its government democratic? Would Egypt’s 81-year-old President Hosni Mubarak, who became his country Vice President 34 years ago and has been president in the past 28 years, pass a test for democratic governance?

In Cairo, Obama said, “Each nation gives life to democracy in its own way and in line with its own traditions”. Egypt is therefore a democracy.

His stance on corruption is also hypocritical. Western powers which he leads do almost nothing to discourage thieving African leaders who keep their loot in those countries. The loots are part of the resources on which these democracies run.

Obama’s position on creation of strong institutions instead of individuals is a great idea, in the same way that he recommends investment in people and infrastructure to create jobs.

Conflicts, ignorance, poverty and diseases may be ravaging Africa, but they are of little interest to America, except where America fears they may impede regular supply of energy and raw materials to its economy. The other American interest in this regard is that displaced Africans can flock to America in search of a future their greedy leaders have mortgaged.

The message from Obama was clear: Africans should fix Africa and if the project falls within America’s expansive interests America can help.

Obama can do something about corrupt leaders in Africa, but he would not since these leaders protect America interests.


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