Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama's Africa

By Fikru Helebo

Barack Obama's victory over John McCain last night was one for the ages. Considering how close the last two presidential elections were and with the history of racism looming over the election, Obama's victory was a very impressive one and it proved once again that America is truely the greatest country in the world. McCain was very gracious in defeat and it showed his character.

Now that the election is over, there are many questions that beg for an answer, like, what direction will the policy of the incoming Obama Administration take with regards to the challenges that Afiricans are facing? Will President Obama stay the course over the genocide in Darfur? Will he continue to treat Africa as an afterthought as all American presidents have done before him? Will President Obama continue America's coddling with dictators like Meles Zenawi? Etc, etc...

Well, we won't know the answers to these types of questions until well into the first year of an Obama Administration, but we have a good clue as to what general direction Obama's policies will take from his own words. Please listen to this thoughtful podcast Obama recorded for his constituents back in September of 2006, shortly after his first visit to Africa as a US Senator. Here is a quote from the podcast:

...there are a couple of things that Africa has to do to help itself and we can be good partners in it. Africa has to take upon itself (the nations of Africa have to take upon themselves) to rid themselves of corruption and politics that are organized around ethnicity and tribe. Unless Africa is able to create a transparent government with rule of law and accountability, ordinary people will continue to be victimized by those in power, and unless Africa rids itself of the vestiges of tribalism and ethnic conflict, you can never create enough political stability to truly develop the country...


Anonymous said...

It is not a secret that Bush's successes and intiatives in Africa is one that will go down in history as, remarkable. For all his foreign policy mishaps, Africa is one area where he trumps any U.S. or international leader.

It is with this in mind that we expect Obama to be able to carry on and possibly boost it further more.

It is time to walk the walk. We will see.

enset said...

dr. ethiopia,

I agree with you that George W. Bush's overall record in Africa compares favorably with any of his predecessors, but I would not go so far as to say that it is remarkable. But, when it comes to the issue of supporting democracy in Ethiopia and stabilizing Somalia, I do believe that Bush's record is a horrible one. Just visited your blog, Abesha Buna Bet. It is a good one. Thanks for linking to Enset. I have linked Enset to Abesha.


Anonymous said...

You are very welcome. I have been following you for a quite some time now. Listen, we can't be a fan f someone ALL the time. In that regard, Bush's accomplishment in Africa is one that is on paper, and i think you would think it is remarkable if you have read in its entirety, the Humanitarian aspect.

As for the Somalia debacle, i put the blame solely on my incompetent leader, who seem to act quite like a herd.

Appreciate the link.

Anonymous said...

Hi Enset,

You said "with the history of racism looming over the election, Obama's victory was a very impressive one and it proved once again that America is truely the greatest country in the world"

some of this is true but let us not exaggerate. Obama had to fit in with WHITE AMERICA (by rebuking critics who talk about his Islamic past, by staying away from talking about African-american issues or not appear "angry black man") in order to get elected. he had to be someone else.
in fact the election showed how racism and the pressure to assimilate or perish still exists in America. his election by 48% of the american population was like getting a passing grade of how much he succeeded in acting, thinking or being like the white man.



enset said...


I am afraid you are one of those people who prefers to think in terms of a glass of water as half empty rather than half full. Racism is a fact of life in America and will continue to be, albeit to a lesser extent, in the future. But there is no mistaking that Obama's election has proved, once again, that America is the greatest country in the world and, by far, the best country in the world for people of African decent to realize their dreams in. Here is an opinion article on today's Wall Street Journal by Juan Williams (What Obama's Victory Means for Racial Politics) that makes this point better than I could.


Anonymous said...

it might be easier for america to do this because it is a nation of immigrants who don't have many centuries of heritage to their land, as opposed to in africa where each ethnicity is attached to its land for thousands of years. anyway, i found this shocking interview with ANA GOMES today she wants election boycott for 2012!!

Anonymous said...

president elect obama is a change agent hope fully he will sigen in to law THE H.R.2003 AND HELP THE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE TO BUILD DEMOCRACY where every body can particepet in the countery's future.

Anonymous said...

The notion that Obama's signing of H.R. 2003 and all these bills around the world, and somehow expecting him to be our savior is one that shows we are unable to solve our own problems from withing. His signing of any sort of bill would do nothing whatsoever.

Any autocratic government could afford to go any fund that might be reduced or cut as any future aid to his/her country.

The people wil be the ones who would pay the ultimate price.

I just don't see or understand that argument

Anonymous said...


enset said...

The euphoria that I see among Abesha people about Obama's election and what that may mean to Ethiopia smacks of an abdication of responsibility and it may be caused by the despondent climate that hangs over Abesha politics. But there is really no question in my mind that, if HR 2003 or a bill similar in nature is passed by US Congress and signed in to law by the incoming Obama Administration, it will be a huge boost for the Ethiopian people in their struggle for peace, democracy and justice, but it will definitely not be a panacea to Ethiopia's problems. The support Ethiopians get from America and other democratic countries is much appreciated, but the Ethiopian people will have to take it upon themselves to earn their freedom (see the Obama quote above).

Anonymous said...

through out history the ethiopian people never giveup struggling to determin their own fate the good example to look in to is that the 2005 election in wich many ethiopians lost their life simply because they exersised their godly given right in choosing their elected say ethiopians have to take it in their own is like dening or intentionaly ignoring the sacrifice paid by ethiopian people.long live ethiopiaand may god bless it's people.