I haven't followed Barack Obama much since he became the US president but ever since news broke of his impending visit to Ghana July 10-11, I've become a little more attentive. I hear he will be giving a speech at the Independence Square for which Ghanaians from all walks of lie could go see him speak. Obama is noted for great speeches and I believe we have another one coming up, after his stirring speech at the American University of Cairo earlier this year.
Recently, he sat down with journalists from AllAfrica.com to talk about his visit to Ghana. Ghana is seen as one of the shining stars on the continent and it's easy to see why it would be chosen. It is also a leader in the Pan-African movement, with events like Panafest. President Kuffour also built great ties with Bush's America and the ties will continue with Obama-Mills. Barack Obama is believed to be visiting the Central Region during his short stay in Ghana, probably touring the slave castles there and learning about some more Black history.
There's been a lot of controversy over Obama's visit to Ghana, being his first to a Sub-Saharan country. Kenya feels it should have been them, since Barack's father was Kenyan and Nigeria feels it should have gotten the nod over Ghana. Wole Soyinka mentioned that Nigeria must put its house in order before it gets paid a visit by Obama and his statement sparked a lot in Naija with some criticizing him of 'treason'. Obama mentions his reason for visiting Ghana in the first part of this interview
When asked about why he chose to go to Ghana, he said Ghana had undergone a couple of successful elections and President Mills has shown himself committed to a rule of law. He mentions that there is a direct correlation between governance and prosperity and he wants to highlight that - an effective model as an example for the rest of Africa. Barack Obama has been a big proponent of technological tools. Africans can SMS questions to Obama to be answered on his visit using these codes: Ghana (1731), Nigeria (32969), Kenya (5683) and South Africa (31958). He also talked about the importance of cheap and efficient agricultural technologies for Africa. Some low-tech technologies are also needed to improve food production.
People are mentioning Ghana's oil find as one of the major reasons for Obama's visit. Production has been slated for this year and though the quantities won't be near what is produced in Nigeria or Libya, it will be large enough to have a significant bearing on the nation's financial assets. Some also claim Ghana is going to agree to host an African Command (a US military base) something Nigeria and South Africa don't want to do, and the reason why these countries were bypassed for Ghana. They sound like conspiracy theories.
The second part of the Obama interview
He harped on stability a lot in his interview; following models that work for a period of time as well as preaching stability. Concerning his legacy for Africa, he would like to see the United States as an effective partner for African countries and built political, civil and economic institutions that allowed for improved living conditions and greater security. I loved when he mentioned that Africans could stay in their countries and succeed. If you're following trends these days, it is becoming increasingly easy to succeed in Ghana and Africa.
It's exciting to see Obama choose to visit Ghana, but how will we measure the success of his visit? Cape Coast is seeing a facelift for his arrival, but will it see the kind of development it deserves afterwards? Would this visit increase investment in Ghanaian enterprises back home? There are many questions to answer and it sounds like a topic for a breakout session at BarCamp Diaspora.
In the spirit of Obama's visit to Ghana, if you will be around DC July 25th, you should try and attend BarCamp Diaspora. It will be a day's event of dialogue, discussions and demos about a rising Ghana, organized at Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies. If you have any interest in Ghana or Africa for that matter, and want to share ideas, network, learn about opportunities in Ghana or some of the businesses and projects out there, this is an event for you.