I have been floundering attempting to understand and articulate the Obama doctrine on Africa post-Obama-euphoria. It’s a bit premature for Obama to have the policy drafted and published,…but somehow, I’ve stumbled upon a fantastic article which articulates exactly what I believe Obama’s approach should be toward Africa. Read below an excerpt.
Military or humanitarian concerns alone will serve neither the US’s, nor Africa’s long-term interests.
A deeper understanding of US interests in Africa would require supporting Africa’s overall desire to lead herself and enhancing African institutions that promote democracy, accountability and human rights. A new US Africa policy should aim to trigger fundamental internal changes in the modes of rule in the continent.…
Africa would benefit from an Obama presidency if more resources were invested in long-term projects in rural and inland infrastructure, agriculture and health, basic and higher education, trade facilitation and enhancement, the elimination of obstacles to private investment, the development of credit facilities, support to African civil society organizations, leadership, institutions and expertise and the sound management of Africa’s natural resources and open its markets to Africa’s exports.
The US will not alone provide the full array of investments that are needed to overcome the continent’s economic problems. But Obama could significantly strengthen and revitalise important public constituencies for Africa in the US and broaden the basis for US engagement in the continent. Read more.
I think it’s so important to lock focus on building self-sufficiency rather than building dependency on aid. Ideology-based diplomacy which beams on African issues through the tinted prisms of ‘war on terror security issues’ ‘anti-abortion/abstinence’ and in the past ‘anti-communism’ is also not a good idea.
An exciting emerging phenomenon is mentioned in passing in the article as a “revitalization of important public constituencies for Africa in the US”; I’ve alluded to it in previous posts. This phenomenon is the increasing number of young educated African Immigrants in the US and their engagement in US politics. 1st-3rd+ generation African Immigrants working within capitol hill…getting involved in campaign organizations like Africans/Ethiopians/Somalis etc.. for Obama. There is a chance these organizations will be a trigger for the involvement of the African diaspora within U.S. politics. As stakeholders who fulfill their obligations, these Americans can harness their rights to make demands. The development of these Africa-affiliated public constituencies (i.e. political/community African Immigrant Organizations) could mean they can push the African agenda…at a time when the U.S. will continue to have an expanding basis for engagement with the continent. Jewish communities are well known in their ability to unite for their common causes.
There are reasons to believe these organizations played key roles in some of the successes of the Obama victory last week. Concrete data is pending; however, allow me to indulge in some extrapolations:
- CNN called VA decided by the African American turnout.
- Precinct 8 is the primary locality for a majority of the Ethiopian Americans in Virginia. The report on precinct 8 is: “Obama’s win in Virginia was buoyed by his margin of victory in Northern Virginia, in particular Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and eastern Fairfax County, inclusive of the 8th and 11th Congressional districts…Out of 3,470,390 total votes cast in Virginia, Obama’s 154,238 statewide advantage, for 51.7 percent of the total, was matched almost exactly by his 154,749 margin in the 8th and 11th districts.” Read more.
What is to come; we shall see. What these Africa-affiliated public entities will amount to; we have no clue. But their engagements early on in the Obama campaign, the dynamism of the young African-born immigrants who have “the highest median earnings/highest education amongst immigrants in the US” and a common ambition to see a better Africa tells me there are some intriguing times up ahead.
There is due cynicism revolving around Obama’s Africa policies. To be expected, especially when taking over from Bush, reportedly one of the more successful leaders in his engagement with Africa… at a time when the U.S has woes that would restrict the plane of vision of any well-meaning, informed president…And here I issue my disclaimer that I agree with some of the skepticism surrounding the issue. But for once the euphoria makes me see that there is more in our hands than we initially perceive. We should help Obama help us. Stay tuned world.