Africans, Not Obama, Must Deliver Africa From Tyranny

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This means that Africans must compel an end to U.S. support of the remaining tyrants in Africa.


[Black Star News Editorial] 
 
Much
has been made of the fact that President Barack Obama only mentioned
Africa in passing during his State of the Union address and some people
read this as a sign that the president is backing off commitment he made
four years ago to promote democratization in Africa. 

 
When
Obama was elected in 2008 there were high expectations -- some would say
unrealistic ones -- both here in the United States, in Africa, and
elsewhere around the world. 

 
The unprecedented expectations were
understandable: This was the first time in the history of these United
States that an African American had been elected to the highest office
in the world. His mantra had been "hope and change.

Skeptics say it was all politics.


Here in
the United States the economy was in free-fall and there seemed no exit
path to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan when Obama was elected. In
early 2009, the U.S. economy was shedding about 700,000 jobs a month.
There was panic on Wall Street and speculation that there could be a run
on the banks and some people even started talking of another Great
Depression. The auto industry was about to collapse. 

 
African
American voters, who helped power the president to the White House,
deservedly, saw the possibility of an end to: institutional racism; discrimination; financial redlining; widespread poverty; official neglect; and, police
and incarceration abuse.

Four years later, many of the same challenges faced by
African American communities have not changed or have even worsened. While
the U.S. national unemployment has declined from nearly 10% to about
7.8%, official unemployment in the African American community remains
abysmally high at 14%, meaning the actuals could range from 20% to 25%, and much higher in certain age groups.  

 
Still, African Americans showed up in
almost the same high record numbers to ensure President Obama's
re-election. Many African Americans know that they must continue to push
President Obama to maneuver through Congress jobs programs that will
create work for millions of Americans, and thereby also benefit African
Americans. The president could also appoint an enforcement czar who could work with governors and municipalities to encourage governments to meet their obligation of ensuring that African Americans (as well as Latinos) are awarded their fair share of contracts.


In any case, Mitt Romney and his one-percenters was never an
alternative. 

 
Europeans also had high expectation of Obama,
having tired of George W.  Bush's confrontational approach to foreign
affairs -- "you're either with us, or against us." The U.S. economic
meltdown had also caused a spiraling effect dragging down European
economies. So Obama's draw down of U.S. military operations in both Iraq
and Afghanistan was welcomed in Europe; just as it was here in the
U.S. 

 
Africans on the continent took great pride in Barack Obama's election. 
 
Here
was proof evident that a son of the soil, a Black man, an African
American whose father hailed from Kenya, could rise to the greatest
elective office on earth. His achievement shattered some of the
centuries of racist stereotypes and helped lift the self-esteem of
African peoples everywhere. 

 
More than anything else, millions
of Africans hoped that President Obama would help the continent get rid
of the dictators and militarists who had usurped the hopes and dreams
unleashed when decolonization occurred 50 years ago, with U.S. support. Finally, a son of
the soil, now president of the United States, would have empathy and side with the masses of ordinary Africans, many thought. 

 
The
son of the soil would not tolerate the kind of massive corruption in
countries like Uganda, Kenya, Gabon, or Nigeria, to name a few, that saw
officials siphoning off billions of dollars from the national coffers

--or diverting foreign aid-- to foreign bank accounts, even as children
went malnourished, hospitals lacked medicines, and schools had no
books. 

 
Many Africans believed a son of the soil would not stand
by as the Sudanese government - before the split into two countries--
attacked and bombed its own citizens in the Southern part of the
country, to promote a perverted Jihadist religious ideology through
massacres. 

 
No more would African countries like Uganda and
Rwanda be able to get away with invading Congo, aided by brutal
militias they trained, to carry off Congo's diamonds, Coltan, gold, timber and
elephant tusks; leaving millions of dead Congolese behind while still
getting U.S. support. 

 
The expectations became even higher when
Obama, during his 2009 visit to Accra, Ghana, declared that the days of
The Big Man was over in Africa. This was now the era of democratization,
the rule of law, constitutional regime, and term limits. 

 
Africa's
destiny would now be guided by a new generation and anchored on
institutions. Young Africans were brought to tour the United States and a
group was even addressed by President Obama. 

 
But the
rhetoric was not matched with action. While the U.S. supported
independence for Southern Sudan, it also continued to support
militaristic and brutal regimes in Uganda and Rwanda, ignoring human
rights abuses in both countries. 

 
And now, with the media focus
on Jihadist threats in northern and Western Africa will President
Obama's administration ignore the legitimate demands by Africans to have
the right to freely elect their leaders? 

 
Will the African
continent once again become a laboratory, a battle ground for outside
forces --as it was when the West and East fought proxy battles during
the Cold War? And will the contest now be between the West on one side
and Jihadism on the other? 

 
And, to what extent will these
battles actually mask a bigger contest; between the Western powers,
especially the U.S., with China on the opposing side, as all scramble
for Africa's natural and mineral resources to power their economies? 

 
Africans must take decisive action to influence the impact of the contest by these outside forces on the continent.

Africans must stop waiting for President Obama or any outsiders to determine the continent's fate. 
 
President Obama has already issued a check to Africa regardless of whether it was simply for political cosmetics: now it's up to Africans to cash the check.

In
addition to the Accra Declaration in June 2012, President Obama issued a
Presidential Directive meant to change U.S. relations with Africa. The
Directive is still posted on The White House's website and outlines how
the  U.S. will work to: strengthen democracy in Africa; foster
economic growth; open up opportunities for a new generation of Africans;
and, improve security and stability on the continent. 

 
Africans
in Diaspora and on the continent must be at the forefront of pushing
the Obama Administration to deliver on the Accra Declaration and the
Presidential Directive. This means that Diaspora Africans must master
the art of: lobbying; protesting; agitating; and, petitioning, in league
with organizations that care about the continent's welfare to compel an
end to support of the remaining tyrants in Africa. 

 
The
effectiveness of mobilization became clear late last year after Rwanda
and Uganda again invaded Congo, using M23, so-called "rebels" but
actually a Trojan Horse to mask a war of aggression.  

 
This time
Congolese activists were joined by Africans from all over the world and
by Americans to launch a campaign on social media to demand that the
United States' United Nations ambassador, Susan Rice, stop blocking the
publication of a damning U.N. report exposing the Rwandan and Ugandan
roles in the Congo calamity. The vigorous campaign, and broader media scrutiny over her link to the Rwandan regime even before she became U.N. ambassador, may have also helped derail Rice's prospects of becoming Secretary of State.

 
Eventually, the leaders of M23
were sanctioned -- even though the true warmongers Rwanda's Gen. Paul
Kagame and Uganda's Gen. Yoweri Museveni remain unindicted for the war crimes in the Congo. On this
occasion, President Obama himself phoned Gen. Kagame to warn him to call
off his dogs of war. 


At the same time African activists on the
ground in the continent must continue agitating for change and
demanding for:  transparency; open and credible elections;
constitutional regime; the rule of law; and, presidential term limits.


This year President Obama will reportedly visit five African countries that are building democratic governance. It will offer African activists the opportunity to insist that rhetoric must be matched with action.

Africans
must become masters of their destiny; as they are now striving to do so
in Uganda, in Kenya, in Zimbabwe, and elsewhere on the continent. 

 
Finally, Africans on the ground and in Diaspora must work together to ensure
that any tyrant who unleashes armed forces to commit human rights abuses
and crimes against citizens will be pursued no matter how long it takes
until they are brought to justice.  

 
After 22 years, Chad's former dictator Hissene Habre is finally being tried in Senegal where he had sought exile. 
 
Africa's destiny must be in the hands of Africans.  
 
That is the way it must always be.


"Speaking Truth To Empower."



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