President and his family visits three African countries
By Roger Caldwell
In four years the president was only able to go to Ghana, for a short visit. Africa is an emerging continent that China is pouring billions of dollars into development, and has replaced the United States as its largest trading partner. More that 60 percent of its population is under 35, and the untapped resources are unlimited.
There are tremendous challenges on a continent where 70 percent of Africans lack access to reliable electricity, and many of the leaders are corrupt, and steal from their people. In order to maintain their power, some of the armies kill, rape women, and rule with an iron fist. The continent is inundated with AIDS and many of the children are starving with limited education.
Africa is rising from a deep sleep, and President Obama made it clear that the United States understands that it is a crucial and pivotal world power. “The first step that we’re going to take is to try to bring electricity to 20 million homes and businesses. This is just the beginning. We look forward to even more companies joining this effort,” said the president.
With the Republicans and conservatives in America examining every dollar the president spends, this was a very efficient trip that was very organized. It was a seven day trip that started with the president, his family, and traveling team arriving in Dakar, Senegal on Thursday, June 28, 2013, and staying there for two days. He spent time with President Macky Sall of Senegal and participated in official dinners and press conferences.
On Saturday, June 30, 2013, the president took part in a formal arrival ceremony at Pretoria, South Africa. He participated with President Jacob Zuma of South Africa in a bilateral meeting, and joint press conference. This country is very special to President Obama, because he met ex-President Nelson Mandela in 2006, which he considers one of his heroes.
President Obama visited the island prison once before in 2006. Sunday’s island prison visit was the first for the family members who accompanied him on the trip, first lady Michelle Obama; the couple’s daughters, Sasha and Malia; Mrs. Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson; and a cousin, Leslie Robinson. The president took the time to talk to Mandela’s wife, and meet with some of Mandela’s children.
This was a moving experience for the president as he spent a few minutes in the cell where Mandela was held for 27 years. The president was quiet as he contemplated the concrete walls, and the mat that served as a bed for an icon, a global political prisoner.
At a town hall meeting for Young African Leaders at University of Johannesburg President Obama said; “They tell you that your voice matters. Your ideals, your willingness to act on those ideas, your choices can make a difference. And if there’s any country in the world that shows the power of human beings to effect change, this is the one.”
The final leg of the trip was an arrival ceremony in Dar es Salaam Tanzania. President Obama had a bilateral meeting and official dinner with President Jakaya Kikwete. There were no photos with the president dancing and cutting the fool throughout the entire trip. During the trip, Obama pledged $7 billion to help combat frequent blackouts and double access to the region.
There was something spiritual about this trip to the motherland, and the president understands his immense responsibility and connection to this continent. On Tuesday, Ex-President Bush joined the president for a wreath-laying ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, where 10 Tanzanians were killed and 85 American and Tanzanians were injured at a terror attack.
There were huge crowds during the trip, but many Africans are questioning why it took so long for the president to come to Africa. The president is promising more trade, more investment, more food security and health to the continent. He has three years to make good on his promises, and time flies in the White House.