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Africans Await President Obama's Message with Great Anticipation

Acclaimed African historian and political analyst Ali Mazrui said he hopes President Barack Obama will deliver a historic message to Africans during his visit to Ghana this week.

This visit is Obama's first visit to Sub Saharan Africa as president.

"His speech in Cairo to the Muslim world was breaking new ground I was hoping on his arrival in Ghana he would deliver something perhaps not quite as dramatic as what he did in Cairo but equally historic," said Mazrui, Director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies at the State University of New York at Binghamton.

Mazrui said the expectations of Africans have risen, especially since President Obama's 4 June  speech to the Moslem world in Cairo, Egypt.

Mazrui said President Obama's message of change and his triumph have raised optimism, particularly among young Africans.

"I think with regards to politically conscious, especially younger Africans, there's no doubt that his success in the United States has inspired many young Africans…and raised the expectation about what is achievable even in developing societies," Mazrui said.

In some published reports, President Obama appealed to African leaders to fight corruption and end political instability.

Mazrui hopes President Obama will address corruption, even though he said the president's trip to Ghana is more about rewarding that country's democratic performance.

"I'm sure he would include that, though his choice of Ghana was based less on issues of what is about corruption and more about optimism to democratic performance. But like most African countries and indeed most other countries in the world, they do have severe corruption problems," Mazrui said.

He expressed optimism President Obama will address the whole of Africa from Ghana on the issue of corruption," Mazrui said.

Since President Obama's trip to Ghana was announced, Nigerians and Kenyans have been debating why he chose Ghana and their countries to make his first visit to Africa as president.

Nigeria is Africa's most populous country while Kenya is the birth place of President Obama's father.

Mazrui said President Obama probably chose Ghana for a number of reasons, including its democratic credentials.

"This is a country which has been making progress in democratization…and indeed in economic progress as well. Secondly, this is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kwame Nkrumah, the founding president of Ghana," Mazrui said.

Nkrumah was an advocate of Pan-Africanism, and Mazrui said that is an important reason for admirers of that aspect of Nkrumah's legacy to celebrate his 100th birth anniversary.

Mazrui said Ghana was the first Sub Saharan African country to gain independence from colonial rule and that, he said might have been another reason why Obama chose Ghana to make his first visit to Africa as president.



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