Obama: Mad Jaruo In The White House
â€œAcross Africa, we have seen countless examples of people taking control of their destiny, and making change from the bottom up,â€ Obama said, to which the unnamed African president might have rejoined, â€œHere in my country we call that sedition!â€
[Africa: News Hypothetical Analysis]
As President Obama addressed the African continent in his speech to Ghana’s Parliament on Saturday, many African presidents sat watching on various television screens throughout the continent. It would be worth a million dollars to know what thoughts might have raced through their minds as they listened to the riveting and game changing speech.
Here’s some possible reaction, purely and completely speculative and imagined of course, by an unnamed African president, who may serve as a composite for a number of presidents who watched the speech.
There may be grains of truth, here and there.
“The people of Ghana have worked hard to put democracy on a firmer footing, with peaceful transfers of power even in the wake of closely contested elections. And with improved governance and an emerging civil society, Ghana’s economy has shown impressive rates of growth,” Obama said, to which the certain unnamed African president might have hissed: “That was an indirect swipe at me!”
“This progress may lack the drama of the 20th century’s liberation struggles, but make no mistake: it will ultimately be more significant…” Obama continued, to which the unnamed president possibly declared, “Oh, God, he is attacking me and my brave originals.”
“This is a new moment of promise,” Obama continued, “Only this time, we have learned that it will not be giants like Nkrumah and Kenyatta who will determine Africa’s future,” he said, to which the unnamed president could well have observed, “Oh, he deliberately left me out of that list but he was obviously attacking me! Everyone knows I’m a giant as well.”
“Instead, it will be you – the men and women in Ghana’s Parliament, and the people you represent,” Obama said, to which the unnamed president might have muttered, “What people? I am the only man capable of being president here in my country.”
“To realize that promise, we must first recognize a fundamental truth that you have given life to in Ghana: development depends upon good governance,” Obama said, and our friend could have demurred, “Of course there is good governance in my country. I am the president.”
“First, we must support strong and sustainable democratic governments,” President Obama continued, and added, “history offers a clear verdict: governments that respect the will of their own people are more prosperous, more stable, and more successful than governments that do not,” to which our friend might have wryly retorted, “Here in my country, the people respect my will. That’s why they don’t want me to leave.”
“This is about more than holding elections – it’s also about what happens between them,” Obama said. “Repression takes many forms, and too many nations are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty. No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves, or police can be bought off by drug traffickers. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the Port Authority is corrupt,” to which the unnamed president might have said, “That can’t be me; here we skim off 50 percent. That must be a neighboring country he’s talking about.”
“No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery,” Obama added, “That is not democracy, that is tyranny, and now is the time for it to end,” to which our friend might have angrily retorted, “Oh, yeah? Let’s see how they end it. With my army, and the one commanded by my relatives….let's see how they end it.”
“In the 21st century, capable, reliable and transparent institutions are the key to success – strong parliaments and honest police forces; independent judges and journalists; a vibrant private sector and civil society. Those are the things that give life to democracy, because that is what matters in peoples’ lives,” Obama said, to which the unnamed president could have possibly said, “You American. You think you know Africa better than me?”
“Time and again, Ghanaians have chosen Constitutional rule over autocracy, and shown a democratic spirit that allows the energy of your people to break through,” Obama said, to which our good friend might have observed, “I’m telling you that that’s Ghana. Here I am the only one with new vision.”
“We see that in leaders who accept defeat graciously, and victors who resist calls to wield power against the opposition,” Obama continued, to which the unnamed president might have yelled at the TV screen, “But I have never lost an election here! Except that one stolen from me many years ago.”
“Across Africa, we have seen countless examples of people taking control of their destiny, and making change from the bottom up,” Obama said, to which the unnamed African president might have rejoined, “Here in my country we call that sedition!”
“We saw it in Zimbabwe, where the Election Support Network braved brutal repression to stand up for the principle that a person’s vote is their sacred right,” Obama said, to which the unnamed president might have snapped, “Now you’re interfering by actively promoting sedition in Africa.”
“We have a responsibility to support those who act responsibly and to isolate those who don’t, and that is exactly what America will do,” Obama said, to which the unnamed president could well have said, “What a naïve young man. You will end up with no one to work with here in Africa.”
“But for far too many Africans, conflict is a part of life, as constant as the sun,” Obama said. “There are wars over land and wars over resources. And it is still far too easy for those without conscience to manipulate whole communities into fighting among faiths and tribes,” Obama said, to which our friend probably noted, “You just don’t know; some of these tribes are very backward.”
“Make no mistake: history is on the side of these brave Africans, and not with those who use coups or change Constitutions to stay in power. Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions,” the President said, to which our unnamed president might have angrily declared, “Oh, that’s getting very personal now. Aren’t you aware it was Parliament that changed the Constitution?”
“America will not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation – the essential truth of democracy is that each nation determines its own destiny,” Obama said, and added, “What we will do is increase assistance for responsible individuals and institutions, with a focus on supporting good governance – on parliaments, which check abuses of power and ensure that opposition voices are heard; on the rule of law, which ensures the equal administration of justice; on civic participation, so that young people get involved; and on concrete solutions to corruption like forensic accounting, automating services, strengthening hotlines, and protecting whistle-blowers to advance transparency and accountability.”
“Sedition! Sedition!” our friend the other president might have yelled.
At this point our friend might have glanced from the corner of his eyes at his generals, seated in his private quarters at State House, eyes glued on the TV screen as well.
The unnamed president might have discreetly studied their reaction to the speech. He might have noticed that two or three of them seemed to have been smiling. Then when one of the generals saw that the president was keenly watching him, he might have immediately scowled at Obama’s image on the screen, and perhaps even stuck out his middle finger at the TV screen.
The president might have wondered; was the jig up?
He might have slowly risen and walked out of the room. Before closing the door behind him, he might have been heard muttering: “Mad Jaruo in the White House!”
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