Africans Expecting More From Obama in Second Term

A person holds a bowl of porridge against a poster of U.S. President Barack Obama as Kenyans celebrate his re-election in Nairobi's Kibera slums on November 7, 2012.
A person holds a bowl of porridge against a poster of U.S. President Barack Obama as Kenyans celebrate his re-election in Nairobi's Kibera slums on November 7, 2012.
Gabe Joselow
Africans around the continent have joyously welcomed the re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama, a man many have hailed as a “son of Africa.” But there are others who have cooled to the president for not doing enough for Africa during his first term in office.

In spite of that, no matter what political battles he fights at home, the president always can count on support from Kenya.

His father’s homeland has always taken particular pride in the U.S. president, and the citizens of the country consider him one of their own.

Watch related video of reaction in Kenya

Watching second term

On the streets of Nairobi, accountant Joseph Koech said he stayed up all night to watch the U.S. vote count that would give Obama a second term.

“We are so happy about Obama's winning this election. As his biological father is a Kenyan, we are happy as Kenyans as a whole," said Koech. "We are so happy tonight, all throughout, we are watching what is going on there and we are so happy.”

In a congratulatory message, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki said “Kenya, as always, is proud of our association with you.”

But in other countries, the response to Obama’s re-election was more measured.

Voicing concerns

While most people who spoke to VOA said they would, without a doubt, have voted for Obama over his opponent Mitt Romney, many felt the president had neglected Africa during his first four years.

In Blantyre, Malawi, radio journalist Innocent Mphogolo said he expects more from Obama in his second term.

“So this time around I think it’s a call to him, or it’s our wish as Africans that maybe he can assist Africa as much so maybe we can see a bit of improvement in the welfare of Africans," said Mphogolo.

Indeed, Obama only traveled to Africa once during his first term - a trip to Ghana in July 2009 that lasted a bit less than 24 hours. In his speech to the parliament in Accra during his visit, Obama called on Africans to take charge of their own destiny.

"Africa doesn’t need strongmen,” he said “it needs strong institutions,” said Obama.

  • Oh Se-hyek, a North Korean defector, said "It is difficult to choose which candidate to favor. But it seems like the U.S. is good at carrying out policy consistently under Obama, especially towards North Korea." (Y. Kim/VOA) 
  • Kim Su-yeon, a student at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in South Korea, said "I cast a virtual vote for Obama because his policies match my personal interest and political stance. " (Y. Kim/VOA)
  • Tony Guzman, a 31-yr old American, voted early in California before arriving in Manila, Philippines. He voted for Obama and said "His economic plan makes a lot more sense" and he likes his stance on social issues. (S. Orendain/VOA)
  • Derek Obryan, a 21-year old Philippine-American attending university in Manila, Philippines said he likes Mr. Obama "for the fact that he's trying to change and set a different [example] for the world." (S. Orendain/VOA)
  • Jane Lien, a Taiwanese-American Peace Corps volunteer ending her term this week in the Philippines. She voted for Obama and said "It's hard for me to imagine our country being run by Romney." (S. Orendain/VOA)
  • Fadli Zon, the vice chairman of the Gerindra Party in Indonesia, said "With Obama there’s a sentiment. I can see the shift in opinion between the Bush and Obama administrations.” (S. Schonhardt/VOA)
  • Ima Abdulrahim, executive director of the Habibie Center, a liberal think-tank in Jakarta, Indonesia, said “An Obama win is better for Asia." (S. Schondart/VOA)
  • Mohammad Ashraf Kashawaz, a singer in Kabul, Afghanistan said "I like Obama, he knows he serves his country, and he not only thinks about his country, he also thinks about Afghanistan." (S. Behn/VOA)
  • Mohamed Abu Roob, an optician in Jerusalem's Old City said at the beginning of Obama's first term the Palestinians were encouraged and thought he would do something about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But nothing happened. (S. Bobb/VOA)
  • Ruth Harif, an Israeli homemaker, said about the U.S. election "Tragedy. It's an absolute tragedy. I have two daughters, two grandsons living in America and I have been following very carefully what Obama has been up to." (S. Bobb/VOA)
  • Charles Ngigi, a bishop in Nairobi, Kenya congratulated Americans for showing maturity in democracy. "The lose[r] conceded defeat immediately, which brought peace." (G. Joselow/VOA)
  • Daniel Orenge, an attorney in Nairobi, Kenya said "I would say Kenyans would love to see Obama visit Kenya one time, preferably very soon." (G. Joselow)
  • Farouk Abou el Gheit,a pharmacist in Cairo, Eygpt said "When [Obama] came to Cairo he gave a very good speech...but nothing was implemented." (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • Wahid Ahmed Fouad, a shop assistant in Cairo, Egypt, said "To a great extent, he ended terrorism on the Arab world's level." (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • Mervat Mohammed, a housewife in Cairo, Egypt, said "[Obama] deals with Arabs and Muslims with respect." (Y. Weeks/VOA)
  • Mahmoud, a doorman in Cairo, Egypt, said "[Obama] could help Egypt. He's a good man, and Egypt likes him...He is loved in Cairo." (Y. Weeks/VOA)

Vowing partnership

He also promised the U.S. would be a strong partner to the continent.

But looking back at his time in office, Senegalese university student Pathe Diouf said he is tired of the U.S. president, who he said has been all talk and no action.

"I've lost hope in Obama,” he said. “He hasn't done much for Africa these past four years. American presidents just make speeches. I've had enough of speeches. I want Obama to do something concrete. Life is hard in Africa, even though Africans get by as best they can.”

U.S. policy for Africa was barely discussed during this year’s presidential campaign, except for a fleeting mention of Islamic extremism in Somalia and Mali during a debate on foreign policy. The scant attention paid to Africa has left some on the continent feeling abandoned, especially by a president with African roots.

Watch related video of reaction in Nigeria

Extending congratulations

Flora Jingla, at the University of Douala, Cameroon was more forgiving. She said she understands that America is not like Cameroon or like Africa as a whole, it has its own problems, and that Obama has to take care of his own country first.

“I don’t have to be evaluating Obama if he’s done enough for Africa. I have to find out first if he’s done enough first for the country where he is the president and not as if he is an African. The Americans know they are voting their president and not an African president," said Jingla.

A host of African leaders sent messages of congratulations to Obama, including South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan and Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi, all of whom expressed the hope that ties between their countries and the United States will be strengthened.

Anne Look in Dakar, Ntaryike Divine in Douala, Lameck Masina in Blantyre, and Anita Powell in Johannesburg contributed to this report.
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Selby
November 07, 2012 10:09 PM
Whilst many people in Governments hope that ties will be strengthened, following the USA Elections, the focus on
Zimbabwe appears to have been altogether but lost. Life
there is more than hard, but is anyone listening, whilst
scrambling for investments in their Countries and ignoring
the situation there.

by: Tedla Asfaw from: Flushing, NY
November 07, 2012 1:37 PM
I stayed up to 2am this morning to hear Obama's victory speech. As a father of three boys one who joined high school when Obama won in 2008 will now go to college during Obama's second term. My boys and many like him of African origin are the luckiest generation of black and minority Americans. The two of my kids both will finish high school under Obama's second term.

The health issue and cost of education is what matters most to us like many working class/middle class Americans. If our kids work hard they will live a better life than us and build America on their way help the African continent to be our pride. I like many Ethiopians criticized Obama for not matching his rhetoric in Ghana in 2008-2009. Mostly though when he praised the late Meles Zenawi in May of this year as a man who is a "champion" of poor Ethiopians many of us lost hope on Obama as a champion of transparency, accountability and the rule of law in Ethiopia/Africa.

As Obama promised to be a strong leader learning from those who voted and do not vote for him on his speech this morning his policy of financing and arming unelected tyrants in Africa has to stop. If America do not win war in Afghanistan by gun the same should be said of tyrants who are silencing their own people with foreign guns.

Voting freely ones own representatives accountable to the people must be Obama's foreign policy guiding principle. The last two decades of recruiting unelected tyrants as an ally to fight a "War on Terror" has to end right now.

Thanks,

Tedla Asfaw


In Response

by: Behailu Aga from: Norway
November 08, 2012 3:07 AM
We hope Obama will keep his promise to Africa. I his famous speech from Ghana for all Africans, he said that Africa does not need strong strong men but strong institutions. Though Obama cancelled some of the aids planned by Bush, he continued to support the tyrany and divisive system in Ethiopia. We very much hope that he would change in the second term.

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