Africa: Back to Reality after Obama's Election

The election of Barack Obama prompted hope throughout Africa that the perception of the continent and the nature of relations between Africa and the US will now be different. However, many bloggers are now warning their fellow Africans against unrealistic expectations. The fact that Obama’s father was Kenyan, they argue, will not alter the fact that Obama was elected by Americans to look out for American interests in the world.

Donald Kipkorir in Nairobi, Kenya writes a fictional memo from Obama to his Kenyan supporters:

During the campaigns, I consistently and fondly spoke of my Kenyan roots. I am an American citizen and, on January 20, 2009, I will be America's 44th president. As a son of a Kenyan father, I know that Section 90 of your constitution bestows upon me automatic citizenship. In the fullness of time, who knows, Michelle and I may decide to come and retire in the land of my father. I know that most, if not all, Kenyans expect me to have a magic wand to your problems and aspirations. To avoid future misunderstandings, we need to agree at the outset on my limitations. And I am making candid confessions only because of my paternal heritage and the special place you hold in my life. […] America as the pre-eminent democracy, military and economic power in the world faces unique challenges which we are demanded of to resolve or lead the way. Part of our foreign policy is to ensure the safety and secure borders of Israel, safe routes of our oil supplies and commitment to our bilateral and multi-lateral allies. Kenya has always been our friend, and these ties shall now be strengthened by my heritage. Our relationship could be imperiled should your foreign policy be at odds with ours. We will never dictate your foreign policy as you are a sovereign state, but our relationship is dependent on your choices. Before I forget, there is the issue of visas and immigration to America. I know that most Kenyans, including the hundreds of thousands who live or study in America, are now expecting preferential treatment. The US citizenship and immigration services are an independent federal department that deals with issues of visa, immigration and citizenship.

The topic of visa authorization to the US for Kenyans was also revisited by Wonkie in a humorous cartoon. The article also states that the current domestic challenges facing the future Obama administration are probably too great to address anything else:

He has a lot on his plate and mostly back on home ground – from the dire financial crisis and Iraq to health care – there is no shortage of challenges. Still, surprisingly, Mr Obama has made some foreign policy commitment to Africa – e.g. assistance with funding for ARV for HIV patients. Something for Africans to be optimistic about though it’s not quite the equivalent of visa-free travel to the US that many were secretly hoping for in Kenya.

Rajiosy, a Malagasy blogger, also wants everyone to calm down from the messianic rhetoric about Obama (fr):

Ne nous emballons pas. Obama a gagné avec environ 53% des voix. Ca laisse quand même 47% de non-croyants aux Etats-Unis. Quant au reste du monde, je crois que dans les campagnes du monde, il y a un certain nombre de gens qui s’en foutent complètement. Allons, allons, l’Amérique n’est pas le nombril du monde. Arrogance (inconsciente) quand tu nous tiens…
La terre a tourné avant Obama. Elle tourne pendant Obama. Elle tournera après Obama. Cette vénération est vraiment stupide. Rappelons-nous, la foule grégaire aime bien brûler ce qu’elle a adoré.

Let’s not get carried away. Obama won with 53% of the votes. It still leaves about 47% of “non-believers” in the USA. As for the rest of the world, I believe that in many countryside all over the world, many could care less. So come on now, America is not the center of the universe. (Unconscious) Arrogance is one tricky thing to let go.
The world kept turning before Obama came. It will go on during and after the Obama era. This worshiping is truly stupid. Let’s remember that the gregarious crowd loves nothing more than burn what it has previously cherished.

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