By Jehron Muhammad
(FinalCall.com) – President Obama’s trip to Africa maybe more wolf in sheep’s clothing. His trip is scheduled to include West, South and East Africa, and the nations of Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania. The trip may be too little too late.
“To some in Africa,” as noted by Isaac Mpho Mogotsi in Politicsweb. co.za, “U.S. President Barack Obama represents merely the pleasant and acceptable face of the American neo-imperialist interference in African affairs. His winning and sunshine smile, his authentic African name, surname and his Moslem middle name, coupled with his awesome African American physical handsomeness, are viewed by some Africans, not that he is U.S. president, (but) as a deceitful façade for an unrelenting and rapacious U.S. foreign policy in Africa.”
Others view Obama’s trip as relevant and long overdue.
Writing in the Harvard Business review John Berman suggested, “U.S. commercial interests alone make Africa an important destination for our president.” The article’s heading, “Obama’s Trip to Africa: Worth Every Penny,” which takes a slap at the mountain of criticism the purported cost of $60 million to $100 million trip is receiving highlights Africa’s economic importance.
Africa is a $2 trillion growing economy, and home to many of the much needed natural resources that fuel Western economies.
General Electrics CEO Jeff Immelt sees business opportunities in Africa. He reports that he may sell more “gas turbines in Africa than in the U.S. over the next three years. Eric Schmidt’s Google reports more clickthroughs in Africa than in Western Europe.” In addition, next door to Tanzania, the East African country of Mozambique had the most important natural gas fi nds of the new century. “About $30 billion will be spent developing those gas fi elds and building associated facilities,” writes Berman.
In addition, Africa is largely a mobile phone-native environment. “Intel-Capital is the global investment arm of the Santa Clara-based Intel,” the writer noted. According to Berman, “In the next six months, Intel aims at reaching over 400 African developers and creating 100 new applications locally that will offer users different experiences across mobile phones and tablets running on Intel architecture.”
Up until this eight-day trip President Obama had spent less than a day in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to Alex Vines of the Chathan House, Obama’s 2009 Ghana trip was “mostly about symbolism offering an effective backdrop for a sharp critique of corruption and repression on the continent, and advocating homegrown governance and stronger institutions and remedies.” The Ghanaian backdrop was obviously chosen to illustrate a country on the continent that “enjoys political pluralism and a growing economy.”
“The reality is, Africa is being ripped off big time,” was an unusually blunt assessment made during an interview recently given by Donald Kaberuka, president of the African Development Bank with Reuters.
Kaberuka addressed the “perennial question,” which includes foreign corporations extracting “Africa’s mineral resources at huge profi t for shareholders with scant reward for local populations,” reported The Guardian.
Kaberuka spoke after meeting British and African leaders in London before the G8 summit. He told the news service, “Africa wants to grow itself out of poverty through trade and investment– part of doing so is to ensure there is transparency and sound governance in the natural resource sector.”
According to The Guardian, Africa loses an estimated $62.2 billion in illegal outfl ows and price manipulations annually. Much of this being exported “by multinationals.”
Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, reporting from The Africa Progress Panel, highlighted how the Democratic Republic of the Congo lost at least $1.36 billion in potential revenue between 2010 and 2012.
Then there’s “military mission creep.”
While Obama’s trip is designed to emphasize democratic governance, connections to the continent’s leaders and economic growth and trade, not on the president’s African agenda is the “troubling ramp up of military and counter-terror assistance to these countries and the human rights abuses committed by these same actors,” reported Michael Shank, Director of Foreign Policy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, in Huffington Post.
The “Western money … African boots approach,” according to Shank, is the so-called “innovative alternative to large-scale war.” What this really means is contracting out military operations. Contracting out U.S. military operations has the effect of removing the shared experience with the American public of a “national force in which citizens see the consequences of war illustrated by departing troops in uniforms and flag-draped coffins,” according to sociologist Katherine McCoy, writing in the 2009 issue of Contexts Magazine.
“The use of private, mostly foreign troops externalizes the costs of war because contractors don’t leave the same impression on the public conscience.”
For that reason foreign contractors are sometimes used for “high-risk or “high-visibility” combat roles.
The significance of Obama’s visit to the slave dungeons of Goree Island and Robben Island, Nelson Mandela’s place of captivity for 27-years, pales when stood side-by-side with the ongoing robbery of Africa’s natural resources and U.S. military intervention into Africa through Africom, the American military command.
Obama, writes Mogotsi, is a far greater danger to Africa’s post-colonial construct. “His Black skin makes him one of us, at least outwardly and viscerally. His African ancestry, his Blackness, his soulfulness—all these things in Obama make Africans to lower their guards when dealing with his U.S. administration; to be more trusting, understanding, and forgiving to his stated intentions towards Africa, even as many of these American policies remain fundamentally at odds with the African Renaissance agenda.”
The mood in South Africa, right now, is somber over the frail condition of Madiba (Nelson Mandela). That mood could also represent disappointment felt after a native son returns and his representation is not his own.
(Jehron Muhammad, who writes from Philadelphia, can be reached at Jehronn@msn.com.)
Why is Obama going to Africa but not the OAU/AU Summit? (FCN, 05-30-2013)
Zimbabwe’s president: West seeks to plunder Africa (FCN, 05-17-2013)
‘Well-behaved’ African leaders rewarded by President Obama (FCN, 05-10-2013)
Wikileaks reveals unflattering U.S. view of African ‘client states,’ leaders (FCN, 12-09-2010)
Obama then Hillary: U.S. scrambles for Africa (FCN, 08-31-2009)
Re-packaged AFRICOM still not good for Motherland (FCN, 07-01-2009)
The global exploitation of Africa’s land and people (FCN, 08-21-2008)
Africa must rise and be free (Minister Louis Farrakhan/FCN, 02-14-1986)
Docs expose U.S. role in first Ghanaian President Nkrumah ‘s Overthrow (Seeingblack.com)