Obama, Clinton Visits to Africa Offer Renewed Hope

Alvin Peabody | 9/23/2009, 11:16 a.m.

The new U.S. government really takes the African continent seriously. At least that is the message several Africans said they got from the visits by President Barack Obama and secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, to the continent in early July and August.

At each stop, the two U.S. officials underlined America€s commitment to partner with governments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and private citizens to build societies where each individual can realize their potential.

€What I got from both visits by these officials is that the U.S., through the new Obama administration, is definitely committed to Africa,€ said Abdul Olawayea, a Nigerian-born financial analyst in Miami, Fla. €That message was made loud and clear when they went to Africa.€

A commitment to Africa was repeated everywhere Obama and Clinton traveled during their first official visits to sub-Saharan Africa since the new administration entered the White House in January. Obama traveled in early July, where he spent two days in Ghana and praised the continent€s steady achievements.

He sought to showcase Ghana as a success story, noting that the country is a "face of Africa that is too often overlooked by a world that sees only tragedy or the need for charity."

"Despite the progress that has been made -- and there has been considerable progress in parts of Africa -- we also know that much of that promise has yet to be fulfilled," Obama said in a speech to Ghanaian lawmakers.

Clinton reiterated similar themes as she launched her seven-nation African tour in early August.

"I want more Americans to know more about what is going on in Africa beyond what is often in the headlines, so if my coming here can bring more attention to the continent . . . I hope that will help Americans have a broader understanding of Africa and understand more fully the real stake we can have in a successful, prosperous, stable Africa in the future," said Clinton, whose travels took her to Kenya, South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia and Cape Verde.

€Africa is a place of opportunity, built on an ethic of responsibility,€ Clinton added.

The responsibility also lies with the people of Africa, who, too, deserve better from their own governments, said Matthew Kuwasu, a political science major at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

€Obama and Clinton are aware that there€s just too much corruption in Africa,€ said Kuwasu, a native of Ghana.

€That€s why I agree with Mrs. Clinton when she pointed out that true economic progress depends on responsible governments that reject corruption, enforce the rules of law and deliver results for their people," he said.

Charles Gbessie of Liberia said he was optimistic about the Obama government€s commitment to Africa.

€In the past, a lot of American administrations have talked the good game of wanting change on the continent,€ said Gbessie, a used car salesman in Atlanta, Ga. €With the Obama administration, though, I think it€s a new day. There is a renewed sense that his commitment to Africa is real, because he also has roots on the continent.€