I have just finished reading the famous Obama speech to the Ghanaian community and to Africa for that matter; and I must admit, it has been one very excellently crafted piece of rhetorical discourse. His speech writer, unlike that of Nico Sarko, did a splendid job of it. I hear he is a very young man of about twenty seven or so years. Unfortunately, I’m not as excited as you may want me to be. I bet that gentleman, Barrack, is an enchanting orator, no questions about that. He was at his oratory best today, with his usual style of verbosity and play on words, juggling syntax and semantics and as gullible and fickle-minded as most Ghanaians are(like the Sheep in Animal Farm), they swallowed everything in that speech, hook, line and sinker. A friend on facebook was practically forcing me to rejoice with him over the speech. Too bad he got disappointed I did not join in the celebration. We are made of different fibers. Aren’t we?

Honestly, the young-man Hussein Obama has succeed in using sledge hammer to knock some valuable sense into the empty heads of Atta Mills, K4, JJ Florence and all who mattered, who matter now and who will ever matter in the political administration of the heavily endowed but paradoxically impoverished continent called Africa. If only they listened. I wished he were a little more frank and blunt to tell K4 that his administration did a very shoddy job by allowing those parcels of cocaine to disappear from police custody and till date no one seems to have any idea where they are. He said so many nice things that would endear him to the heart of many listeners. But guess what? we have been here before. Like the Akans say, y3ate abr3. He gave a motivational speech. Yes, that is what it was. Those kinds of speeches that spark something inside you and make you feel like you want to jump up and start doing something. But I bet this is not new to us in Ghana, nor the rest of Africa. My gut feeling is that Dr. Mensah Otabil can give the same speech and even better. He does not need a space and signature in the Oval Office to come up with such stuff. Emmanuel Dei Tumi, Uncle Ebo White, to mention a few, would do no less. So what is special about all that he had said? Who says Africans do not know that the development of their continent is their own business? In fact, we are aware. Telling us about his father who was a shepherd boy in a tiny village in Kenya and his grandfather who was a cook for the British is no news to us at all. He is even fortunate. His father had goats to herd and his grandfather cooked for the white man. Several people in Africa today will do anything to get such a job. In fact, all his isms, for me, are mere cosmetics. He skillfully dodged the gaping facts. Thankfully, it wasn’t a debate for anyone to counter, so he got away with it. So I have my beef.

First of all, I disagree with him and with any other person who thinks, the necklace of blame for Africa’s woes should not be pinned around the neck of the West. If he so vehemently says the West cannot be blamed for the economic bane of Zimbabwe for the past decade, I find that quite baffling and I conclude, that smacks of intellectual bankruptcy and moral dishonesty. The problem in Zimbabwe did not start yesterday when that senseless old man, Mugabe, came to power. It is an accumulation of factors over a very long period, to which the West is inextricably linked. This is precisely why unlike Obama, I think Africa needs strong men and not strong institutions. An Ewe adage loosely translates as, a weak hunter’s dog, never catches a game (avutor masemase fe avu me lea la o). Africa needs men who are strong, psychologically, morally and even physically, to stand up to the bullying and manipulation by the West. Men who are tough minded and would not be stooges for Western gimmicks. If this were not the case, why did the West come for all the strongest ancestors of this wretched patch of land and forcibly took them to the sugar cane plantations in the lands beyond? The so-called strong institutions cannot be manned by weak brains. Such has been the case and for far too long, America and the West have cashed in on it.

Instead of dodging responsibility, America and the West must stop giving hand outs to African countries; stop giving them fish and teach them how to fish for themselves. Give them the necessary tools and skills, empower them with a one-off lump financial and technical resources and watch them create something out of nothing. Enough of the loans and grants. The amount of money the US embassies make in Africa each year from the poor struggling people who think they can only make it in the cold streets of America, is enough to sustain the economies of more than two-thirds of Africa for a considerable length of time. It is this same money that is given back to us as loans. So when Obama talks about the U S’s support for Africa, he has to rewrite his notes. 

Talking about wars and child soldiers in Africa, he sounded so resolute in his resolve in condemning the act. He however fell short of admitting that such wars are sparked, stoked and the benefits thereof, milked by evil hands that cannot be divorced entirely from the West. How many war-torn African countries have the capacity to manufacture the kind of sophisticated weapons used in those conflicts? Then he talks about the Africa Command. He claims it is not focused on establishing a foothold in the continent but to advance the security of America, Africa and the world, eh? Should we believe that one too. Well, I’m tempted to take that with a pinch of salt. Let me be the only doom-sayer in this case. The Guantanamo Bay is still alive, fit and kicking. If the security of America is of such prime importance to Obama, then it is about time someone told them they must play their big brother role well. Yes, if it concerns the security of the US, the decisions and their actual implementation is swift, precise and without any due regard for international concerns. We saw it in the Afghanistan case, even in Iraq and Iran. Indeed, the US has only permanent interests and not permanent friends. 

The Rwandan Genocide was sparked off by one small radio station; Radio des Mille Collines; which whipped up ethnocentric sentiments and compelled the Hutus to take up arms against their kinsmen, the Tutsis. But for the pronouncements from that radio station, the genocide would not have assumed such a devastating proportion. The US had all it takes to quell the operations of that radio station. A simple blocking of the airwaves by some technology; which I am sure the US could have come up with; would have done the trick. In the name of so-called international whatever nonsense, they sat down, folded their arms and saw all that evil happen. Then today, when America’s interest and security are at stake, they turn round and tell us we need AFCOM. I ‘m not sure. Somebody please tell Kweku Obama, that the US must not only be that swift if their interests are at stake. To quote the words of Martin Luther King Jr. in his famous Letter from the Birmingham Jail, injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.

Finally, in addressing the issues of good governance in Africa, please tell Obama when he next passes by your house that, he should be bold enough and put his solid pair of balls on the line, throw diplomacy to the dogs and tell K4 and others like him, to stop thieving the nation’s money to buy hotels for themselves and their children, the Ayarigas to stop buying state tractors under shady circumstances and the Muntakas to stop using our money to buy kyikyinga (khebab) for their girl friends on the trip to Germany.

My beef, from the cold. 11-07-09

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