News / Africa

Africa Policy Watchers Lose Hope in President Obama

President Barack Obama speaks at a departure ceremony at the airport in Accra, Ghana, July 11, 2009 (file photo).
President Barack Obama speaks at a departure ceremony at the airport in Accra, Ghana, July 11, 2009 (file photo).
Nico Colombant

While President Barack Obama spends the last year of his current term in office with many pressing issues, including trying to get re-elected, African analysts and advocates say policy toward sub-Saharan Africa ranks as a very low priority.  This has come as a disappointment to some as Obama's father was from Kenya.

While walking onto the House floor to deliver his recent 2012 State of the Union speech, President Obama told U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta "great job tonight."

It was later explained the comment referred to a late night U.S. military raid into Somalia to free two hostages including an American aid worker.

But Obama's actual speech made no mention of sub-Saharan Africa whatsoever.

Kwaku Nuamah, a Ghanaian professor at American University in Washington, is not surprised.

"Africa is not big in Washington, there is no constituency that cares about Africa that much," said Nuamah.  "I did not think the traditional contours of American foreign policy were going to change because there was somebody in the White House with ties to Africa, but of course a lot of people expected that."

Since making a speech in Ghana in 2009 about how the United States would hold African leaders accountable to good governance and respecting democratic institutions, President Obama has not returned to the continent.

Emira Woods from Washington-based Foreign Policy in Focus says actual change though is more important than visits and speeches.

"Wonderful words, but very much unfulfilled," said Woods.  "Those words have to be lived in terms of U.S. foreign policy and we are still waiting for them to be realized."

Woods says she feels too much attention is placed on U.S. military aid in resource rich countries, without regard to a government's record or how elections are conducted.

This includes help for Nigeria's embattled government to eliminate Islamic extremists, and assistance in autocratic-run east and central African countries to squash the roving Lord's Resistance Army.

Patrick Mubobo, a Congolese American recently protesting in front of the White House, is one of those bitterly disappointed, after the U.S. government did little following flawed 2011 elections in his native mineral-rich and heavily U.S.-assisted Democratic Republic of Congo.

"We want to tell him it is over if he does not do the right thing for Congo, for children who are crying and dying if he does not do the right thing for democracy, he can count that he has not only lost my vote, but he has lost a lot of votes," said Mubobo.

Congolese Americans at this recent protest said they had campaigned vigorously for Obama in 2008 and even rallied for his health care legislation, but that now they felt disillusioned with the way the U.S. government was dealing with Africa and Africans.

U.S. officials point to recent successes in Africa, such as helping diplomatically as South Sudan became a new country last year, giving assistance to millions of victims to overcome drought in the Horn of Africa, and pursuing major health initiatives to fight AIDS and other diseases.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs