Saturday’s Denver Post Editorial about Obama speaking hard truth in Africa is right on the mark in my view. President Obama’s visit was the occasion for an American President to speak openly about Africa’s own responsibility for creating a better life for Africans. He came with no package of U.S. aid or promises that have not already been made. Because of his legacy he speaks like no other U.S. President could. It is remarkable that as a guest he was so calm and authentic in addressing corruption, politicians who are reluctant to leave office, and the cost of cronyism to middle-class Kenyans. Kenya loses 250,000 jobs to corruption annually. He spoke about the importance for encouraging entrepreneurialism, education, especially for girls and the importance for creating a strong civil society. Frankly, as I read the Daily Nation newspaper when living and working in Kenya, I think President Uhuru Kenyatta is working diligently to clean-up his cabinet putting six of the highest ranking people on administrate leave until investigations for graft are completed. This is a first for a Kenyan President. Times are changing.
So we have Obama talking seriously about Africa’s responsibilities and when not referring to corruption he emphasizes the huge economic growth currently taking place across the continent. He says we need to, the West needs to, re-evaluate its perceptions about Africa.
Indeed people like Minnesotan Walter Palmer, who killed Cecil the lion in such a despicable manner, is a sharp contrast to the likes of a caring son of Kenyan blood who happens to be our President. Compare him to the narcissistic criminal act of one very self-deluted hunter and one can wonder just who are we really? The irony of the this week’s news.
NPR’s story featuring four African Presidents calls for diplomatic pressure to be brought to bear on China as well as night vision goggles and helicopters.
Poaching elephants continues, even in the face of more publicity and awareness throughout the world.
The Wall Street Journal publishes an Opinion piece by Tony O. Elumelu, a philanthropist in Lagos, Nigeria. Mr. Elumelu’s comments are about the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit in Washington D.C. that is going on this week. It is the coincidence that brings together the panel of four African Presidents interviewed by NPR.
Elumelu’s headline is “Africa is Open for Business, Ready for Investment”. He extolls the ventures of entrepreneurs across the continent and the shift for companies like General Electric, Wal-Mart and IBM to expand efforts for capital investments and ideas impacting Africa’s economy.
Still, Africa experiences internal grabs for power and land, overwhelming population growth, the drought and mass killings of wildlife. These are factors requiring continued focus by the developed economies of the world if Africa is to grow a middle class. Hostilities need to be squelched for tourism to return, a significant employment engine throughout Africa but especially the in coastal locations on the Indian Ocean. And in all this, Africa’s strategic importance to the United States becomes more evident.
Saving wildlife is not a simple task. It will take support of richer countries to encourage rule of law and the development of governance systems in countries as young as the ones in East Africa. The world seems more complicated everyday. Somehow the countries that are rich, through policy as well as philanthropy, must transfer its capitalistic systems with sufficient vigor to build a middle class or the alternative of poverty, chaos and division between the haves and the have-nots is all that will be left.