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It’s a bit too late for America to upstage China in Africa

US-President-Barack-Obama-during-the US-Africa-Leaders-Summit

US President Barack Obama during the US Africa Leaders Summit

President Obama has just concluded a meeting with African Heads of State and government in Washington DC. This meeting has been seen as a reaction by the super power to counteract the influence that China has acquired recently in Africa. The first observation that one makes is the fact that while China has very ably used the tactic of inviting individual African presidents to a 21-gun salute reception and exclusive meetings with its senior administration, Obama chose to make a classroom of 49 old men and one woman Heads of State.

You could tell from what was broadcasted that this sounded more like a lecture. Listening to the talk by US Secretary of State John Kerry and later Obama, you could tell the conference organisers failed to fashion the meeting on feelings of mutual respect and equality of states. This is critical in diplomacy even when apparently dealing with nations that have wide ranging disparities, whether economic or social.

It’s understandable that America is so used to being in charge that it may have forgotten how it is to get its way at the terms and level of African states. It even appears that America is yet to fully fathom the effect of the rise of semi-peripheries such as the BRICS countries and recently the MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey).

Its European counterpart seems to have reached the rate of diminishing returns with regard to prosperity based on the expropriated wealth from former colonies (largely African), and the consequent efficiency emanating from the long established social infrastructure of medieval and new age nation states. America is dealing with Africa at a time when its engagements on issues especially on international security have been highly questioned.

While gross human rights violations and atrocities have led to the comity of nations with regards to the formation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) under the Rome Statute. However, the very application of the court procedures has been termed selective. Another inconsistency is the manner in which the US has engaged itself in the Kenyan situation, especially with regards to the ICC.

While its policy has been to maintain ‘essential contact’ with the Jubilee administration, Kenyans have witnessed a very interesting photo of the Obamas and President Uhuru at the White House. They say a photo is worth a thousand words. Michelle Obama seems all too happy close to Uhuru while Obama appears to wear a somewhat somber smile.

Uhuru has through this visit, managed to stage a diplomatic coup in terms of Kenya’s foreign policy, and further used the opportunity to express the feeling that Kenya is indeed isolated on the war on terror. Obama’s response has been that the US will continue to join hands with African governments on the matter. This exchange brings to the fore the fact that the US will conveniently abandon strong stances for the sake of business.

In my opinion, it is a bit too late for the super power to roll the red carpet off the feet of China in Africa. As a matter of fact, China’s economy will overtake that of the US possibly in less than 10 years.

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  • As a British student living and studying in China, I completely agree. America (And Britain to an extent) seem to think they are a class above many other nations. The government seem to treat many of the African nations as children, not as equals in this world and this is something China has capitalised on. (And well done to China). Combined with a willingness to improve infrastructure in Many of the African nations by China, as opposed to just simply siphoning off money, I think America’s usurpation is not likely to be reversed soon.

    I read about the work you done for albinism in Kenya and for your country. Had a look at your site and read some articles. I wish there were more politicians like yourself sir!