What Obama’s African Policy Could have Borrowed from Lincoln, Bush and Clinton.
The fact that the first black United States President Barack Obama will be leaving office in two months have been lost under the cloud of the brutal, acrimonious and brutal “festival of cruelty” that has been the White House contest between Hillary Clinton and George Bush.
While who between the two would make the most pro-Africa President for Africa is definitely a story for another day, looking at what Obama has achieved in the US-Africa relations leaves a lot to talk about. This is because looking at President Obama’s legacy on Africa since he took over eight years ago, it falls way below the jubilant expectations that swept through the continent after his historic “Yes We Can”-inspired victory in 2008.
Besides the historic trips Kenya, Egypt, Ghana, South Africa, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Senegal, there is very little to connect the first African American president to the land of his father.
Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Abraham Lincoln, men whose heritage had no connection to Africa, did more for the continent than probably what the “lean man from Land of Lincoln” achieved.
To support this premise I have outlined below the lesson that Obama should have learnt from the achievements of Abraham Lincoln, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The trio put pen on paper to pass policies that would affect millions of Africans in a huge and historic ways.
It is during Clinton’s tenure at the White House that the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a programme that have enabled many African countries to export their products to the United States, was initiated.
On the other hand Bush initiated the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief-PEPFAR, which has enabled more than two million Africans affected by HIV to access free anti-retroviral (ARV) medication.
Before the inception of President’s Emergency Plan For Aaids Relief (PEPFAR) in 2003, only about 50,000 Africans could access the prohibitively expensive ARVs. The programme was previously thought to be too expensive to implement since it costs the American government over $15 billion.
“Africans the world over would have hailed Obama had he decided to show a symbolic bonding with Africa in Addis Ababa if he had participated at the African Summit on May 25, rather he sent an underling, Secretary of State, Sen. John Kerry to represent him,” lamented Dr. Chika Onyeani, the author of Capitalist Nigger: The Road to Success and The Broederbond Conspiracy, on Obama’s refusal to attend AU’s 50th birthday despite invitation. “As he travels to Africa, he will see a definitely different Africa, that enthusiastically celebrated his election and reelection, but an Africa that is asking: What have you done for me, not lately but ever?”
The President would later “pay for this sin” by organizing the US-Africa Leaders Summit in 2014 where fifty heads of states and governments congregated in Washington. The history achieved no major historic policy on Africa besides flooding the US capital with hundreds of African entourages.
Ironically, one of President Obama’s biggest role models and heroes is Abraham Lincoln, a man whose contribution towards the welfare of Africans will remain etched in the minds of men forever.
The 44th U.S President took the oath of office using a Lincoln bible, reportedly reads Team of Rivals, Lincoln’s biography by Kearns Goodwin, and declared his intention to run for the presidency in Springfield, Illinois where Lincoln hailed from.
But when it comes to matters Africa, that is where the two men’s comparisons end. Unlike the Obama’s administration whose best gift to Africa has been token visits, flowery speeches, Lincoln was the first man to deal slavery a deathblow through the Emancipation Declaration of 1863.
At the stroke of his historic pen, Lincoln not freed 3.1 million of the 4 million black slaves but also recruited them in the Unionist Army, hence forming the first elements of the black Buffalo Soldiers.
This declaration also signaled the beginning of the end for the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, which saved millions of Africans from the horrors of being hunted from the continent and transported in dingy slave ship holds to the Americans.
This not only risked the Lincoln presidency but also triggered the bloody American Civil War that cost … American lives and threatened to split the country into two.
Therefore, despite being the son of a Kenyan immigrant President Barack Obama just missed the opportunity to occupy a place of historic honour among Africans by instigating a far-reaching policy for the continent.