This past weekend marked the visit of Barack Obama to Ghana. A lot has been said about the significance of this visit, this being the first trip to a sub-Saharan African nation by the first Black American president. I missed most of the speeches and festivities since I had 'gotten away' for the weekend and have been reading up on some blogs written by various Ghanaians on the Obama trip. I will like to share some thoughts from these awesome people.
GhanaConscious' own Omanba critiqued Barack's speech. She broke it down into four major parts - democracy, health care, conflict resolution and doing it yourself. I personally think too much mention is made of democracy but Omanba spells it out nicely - "An era of tyranny, gagging, misuse of power and governing with impunity sprinkled with a dash of Elections every so often, does not constitute democracy. Africa must take note!" She stresses the fight against HIV-AIDS and Malaria and also mentions drug counterfeiting which leads to a shameless plug about the fantastic work of Mpedigree.
About conflict resolution, Omanba says, "However another school of thought like the one I belong to would rather we didn’t start these conflicts in the first place. The West never asks for our troops or our money when they have Internal problems. They don’t pick up arms and sticks and machetes and go brandishing them on their kith and kin. They use their own security and civic interventions and they respect the powers of these organs of governance and their powers thereof. People take each other to task under the constitution and there are checks and balances in society." Like someone mentioned somewhere, what Barack said this weekend has been mentioned over the years by people like Kwame Nkrumah and Jomo Kenyatta. Omanba queries - "Barack Obama has spoken. Is Africa ready to listen or is this visit going to be taken for just the honour of him signing the VISITOR TO AFRICA guest book and file it in the archives to gather dust." We must act.
Jemila Abdulai of Circumspect blogs on GhanaUnite mentions that most of Obama's message to Africans reiterated what we already know. He basically said nothing new. Jemila also encourages African countries to take a lead on cleaner energy and becoming self-sufficient in meeting energy needs. There's no reason why we can't export solar energy for instance. She also talks about how Accra and various places in Ghana were cleaned and prepared for Barack Obama's arrival. Apparently, we are very happy to splash money to tidy our house in anticipation of a high-profile visitor but see little reason to expend the same effort to maintain a clean environment though we are some of most Godly people on earth. This kind of Ghanaian hospitality must be re-evaluated. Jemila signs off saying, "the solutions are all around us, all we have to do is look". The issue here is look where? I am not sure we know where to look or where to find the solutions. Forums like these are a start :-)
One of the biggest proponents of the African Union, E. K. Bensah shares his view from Ghana on Obama's visit. He marvels at the airtime Barack Obama has gotten over the last few years and his status as a superstar president. With Barack ringleading the "Yes, we can" theme, expectations are much higher for black people now and coincidentally all Africans everywhere. Obama did ask Africans to take charge of Africa. With many young Africans inspired and listening to Obama, this message means that there will be no welfare from outside sources in the pursuit of African excellence.
My buddy, Kobby Owusu blogs about Jumpstarting Brand Ghana: Obamamania + Social Media He starts with some facts: Ghana is at the center of debates on Africa because of Obama's visit AND Ghana was the number one trending topic on Twitter during Barack Obama's speech to Africa. It beat out the Iran election, Michael Jackson, etc. I don't know how the campaign to get #obamaghana trending panned out since I could not get on Twitter (@Abocco) but with Obama-mania intersecting with Ghana's goodwill, Ghana must have received quite the buzz this past weekend. All the major media houses covered the events. Kobby was part of the social media panel for BarCamp Ghana and in his blog post encourages more activity on branding Ghana through social media. The Obama campaign's use of social media like Facebook, Youtube and Twitter was key in his election victory. He touches on the great job the 'My South Africa' campaign is doing, I also saw some activity at this year's Harvard African Business Conference through Brand South Africa. Kobby also mentioned the Ministry of Tourism launching a three (3) year tourism strategy (Budget:GHC 15 million).
Gameli Adzaho, who was also at BarCamp Ghana, blogged about the fanfare surrounding Obama's visit. Gameli mentions that "the occasion gave him the opportunity to spell out America’s new policy direction for the African continent." He also touches on the four-prong approach discussed by Omanba in her post. Gameli is convinced Barack Obama has been watching Africa's progress and after his speech to Ghana's parliament which is sure to be discussed at length, he'll be looking to see how Africans take charge. He seems to be looking out for interests and is taking the 'tough love' approach. There is too much about Barack to admire. Gameli also referred to the debate between Ghana being a "beacon of hope and shining star of Africa or the reward for being a good boy and an ardent follower the democratic creed as per America".
Sarpong Obed titles his post "Obama is an Energy for the Youth". He expresses frustration with the traffic problems caused by Obama's visit. People obviously loved Obama's presence in the country though some may have complained about the redness of the carpet laid out for him and attendant unnecessary road blocks. Sarpong continues with a quote from Barack's speech which also tickled my fancy - "Above all, it will be the young people — brimming with talent and energy and hope — who can claim the future that so many in my father's generation never found." Sarpong asks about the whereabouts of the Ghanaian youth policy. He signs off with "Until then, my thanks to this man who speaks and we listen."
MacJordan, another attendee at BarCamp Ghana, blogs about his view from Accra. He has an interesting start, "he long awaited day has finally come. The Black and Bright Star of Africa now blossoms in the sky. From the moment, the Air Force 1 landed on the tarmac of the Kotoka International Airport, I knew and believed that, the black man is now free after several years of bondage." He also added, "God has already anointed Africa (GHANA) was the acronym I got from a Liberian refugee last week at the mall in the hopes of getting some small coins for tro-tro… Ghana is truly the gateway to Africa…!!" He sampled views from colleagues about what questions they'd have for Barack Obama. Here's my favorite one - "What lessons in his life will he want to the Blacks (Africans) to pick as most youth look at him as their mentor?"
Edward Tagoe blogged about Obama's visit shortly before he arrived in Ghana. He talked about the home-keeping and clean-up exercise Ghana embarked for their august visitor. "All in the bid to impress the incoming messiah. My question is “Do we always have to wait for the BIG names to come before we clean up?”You should read Frederick's comment on this blog entry.
I will update this post if I find another interesting blog posts.
What are your reactions to the Obama visit?