Barack Obama is Truly the Son that Was Lost to Africa, now the most historic, most powerful man in the world. Africa celebrates its Blessings By Counting Its Losses:
Barack and Michelle Obama will need some tissues for their tears for Africa while they’re in Ghana
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama greet Ghana’s President John Atta Mills and his wife Ernestina Naadu Mills (L) upon Obama’s arrival in Accra, Ghana. (Jason Reed/Reuters)
My group tour of the Elmina and the Cape Coast Slave Forts near Accra, Ghana was one of the saddest experiences of my life.
President Barack Obama’s very brief visit to Africa by way of Accra, Ghana, has the potential of creating all sorts of feelings for Africans, African immigrants, lost Africans scattered around the world, for African Americans who are descendents of Slavery, for Africans on the continent, and for leaders of the continent who are supervisors of all sorts of misery on the continent. The one son that was lost to Africa is now the most powerful man in the world, and of course, this is a good thing. The question now is: What is Mr. Obama, whom we all adore so much going to say to Africa, to African leaders and to the people of Africa who have so much hope in him? And if his speech about “good governance and economic development” is made, will our leaders listen to him?
The Elmina Slave Fort (otherwise called the Elmina Castle) where slaves were kept under torture as they awaited the slave ships. Obama and Michelle are scheduled to visit these horrific historical relics of inhumanity to Africans.
Barack Obama is wise to begin his engagement with Africa from the peaceful ocean city of Accra. Many in Kenya, including the leadership of Obama’s fatherland are said to be very dismayed by the decision. They believe that the US President is the son of a Kenyan, and therefore owes his first loyalty to Kenya, and not to Ghana. But Barack Obama, being the wise son that many of us admire, has chosen Ghana, and maybe this is a good thing for all of Africa.
Why did he not choose Liberia or Nigeria or another country if he could not choose his fatherland of Kenya, many would ask. According to the news reporting, he may have chosen Ghana because of its progress democratically as well as economically. But does this mean that Obama and the US only care about African countries that resemble their picture of good governance or is it something else that made Obama to pick Ghana? Or is it because Ghana is historically the most appropriate place to engage Africa from?
Elmina Slave Fort’s Sign of the “door of return.”
A year ago, I was in Accra, Ghana for two weeks, and was impressed with the serious progress the country was making . Many will believe that Ghana is the best example of democracy and economic progress, but let us not be so proud so quickly. Ghana, like most other African countries has a long way to go to be called a truly democratic or economically progressive country. The country is doing a great job, but this is because of low expectations we have towards African countries, so let us not forget this.
I believe that there are two historical reasons why Barack Obama’s first visit to Sub-Sahara Africa is to Ghana. The first of the two reasons is because Ghana is the home of African Independence, the leader of Africa’s fight against Colonial rule. The second is because of Ghana’s connection to African American history by its connection to Slavery and Slave Trade. Ghana was the strongest stronghold of the Slave transportation and hoarding industry during the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The country was used by the Slave empire to transport Africans from across the continent, its two port forts, the Elmina and the Cape Coast Slave Forts, still being kept for history in that country. If anyone will examine Africa’s present progress and needs, that individual must wrestle with the ugly history of Colonialism and Slavery, must confront its ugliness in that historic visit that President Obama will be making to the Forts, and must deal with all of the ugly pain before one can move on.
I know that Africa is home wherever an African goes, and if Ghana is Obama’s first step, this is such an honorable thing to do at this time. So, why would the Kenyan leadership feel “snubbed” as the news media claims?
Now That Obama Is In Africa:
Having argued my points, let me return to my original argument that Africa celebrates its blessings by counting its losses. When the sons of Africa return home, what do they return to? Do they return to successful governments and economic strongholds? And before bringing up this point, let me ask, why must Africa’s sons “return” home? Why can’t they remain home? Why are the best of Africa away from home? President Obama’s speech in Ghana will touch on the question of “good governance and economic power in Africa.”
Good for him.
One of the saddest problems that plagues Africa is not lack of resources, but a lack of good governance and leadership. Africa does not need aid. Africa needs leaders that care about their people, leaders who will seek the good of their people instead of the good only of their families and close friends. Today, everyone is celebrating Barack Obama in Africa while at the same time there are millions of African fathers who have neglected their children, their responsibility as role models for their children and to their countries.
Is President Obama going to be a role model for these African men and leaders? Maybe he will. And if he is to be a good example to look up to, it is therefore a good thing for him to begin his connection to the continent in Accra, where there is a peaceful government, but a place that is historically very significant to the history of our continent.
But Will Obama return to Africa Many More Times?
I think he should and must.
Weapons used by Slave Fort (Castle) guards to ward of any ships
Africa is the world’s second largest continent. There are about sixty countries in Africa. The countries are as diverse as the continent, with many more issues to deal with than anywhere on the globe. President Obama’s connection to Africa is not a symbolic one. His connection is not a long and historical one as that of descendents of Slavery. His connection is fresh and young. He is the son of a Kenyan, one who has relatives, including siblings still in Kenya. In Africa, a son is never lost to his people even though it may seem that we had lost Obama. Africa is not a stranger land to him. He must return over and over to Africa. Maybe, his relationship to our leaders will affect them. Maybe his connection will enforce policies that prevent countries that refuse to support human rights from getting the aid they want. Maybe something good will happen for our continent just because one of their lost sons is watching what they do to our people.
Beautiful Ghana, Beautiful Africa
Barack and Michelle should be celebrated. They have a very difficult position to be in: to balance their love for Africa without compromising their position as Americans. This is a great day for Africa and a great day for African leaders to reexamine their role in the development of their individual countries.
Please, someone should find some tissues for our President and our First Lady when they visit the Slave Forts and when they meet the peaceful and happy people of Ghana. There will be some tears even in the laughter on a continent where the African people know both how to laugh and how to cry.