THE MACROCOSM: The announcement that U.S. President Obama would make a quick one-night-one stop visit to sub Saharan Africa to the country of Ghana was made on May 16, 2009. ”
“The president and Mrs. Obama look forward to strengthening the U.S. relationship with one of our most trusted partners in sub-Saharan Africa, and to highlighting the critical role that sound governance and civil society play in promoting lasting development,” White House written statement, May 16,2009
On Sunday, May 17, the New York Times in an article entitled “The Calculus Behind Obama’s Ghana Stop Over” by Peter Baker has the following quote:
“News reports from the region quoted Ghana’s foreign ministry saying Mr. Obama would go see the notorious slave post, but the White House said Sunday that no schedule has been finalized.”
The article concluded with the following statement:
As a model for governance, Mr. Obama’s advisers concluded that Ghana offered an opportunity to promote important values even in a short visit. “Because it is the first visit, it will allow us to highlight these issues more,” the senior official said. “We have limited time and we tried to figure out where we could get the most out of limited time.”
Well, you draw your own conclusions. Pretty quick decision by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs! So much for committees! In fact it wasn’t until mid June, a month later that the formation of committees was announced. There was no collaboration on where the President Obama would visit in the country with the Ministries of Agriculture and the Ghana Health and Education Services, where US AID has worked most closely over the years. There was no collaboration with the U.S.Embassy, nor with the Obama team, nor with President Obama himself, who might resent being seen as Ghana’s Dark Tourism poster boy, especially when he would like to highlight more important issues and values ….like celebrating Ghana’s success and publicizing America’s role in this.
Surely for the Ghanaian people, the issues and values are not represented by Cape Coast Castle which is symbol, not of governance and civility, but of despotism and brutality.
Briefly, I sent off that e-mail to Rabbi suggesting he write to the Daily Graphic stating his point of view and got this back:
“Thanks for the advice my Brother, I will do that and thanks for the mail. Rabbi”
And then on June 25th, I see the following article buried on page 40 submitted by the Graphic’ Central Region reporter where Cape Coast Castle is located:
OGUAA PREPARES FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA’S VISIT
Story: Shirley Asiedu-Addo, Cape Coast
THE chiefs and people of the historic city of Cape Coast, once Ghana’s capital city, are preparing feverishly for the visit of U. S. President Barack Obama on July 10, this year.
The palace of the Oguaa chief, Osabarimba Kwesi Atta II, is undergoing extensive renovation to welcome the US President as he is billed to pay a courtesy call on him.
The Omanhen told the Daily Graphic in Cape Coast that it had become necessary for the renovation of the offices of the Oguaa Traditional Council as it would host President Barack Obama.
“We are ready to make him feel at home,” he said.
Osabarimba Kwesi Atta said the traditional area was happy to be part of the historic visit, adding that there was the need for the chiefs and people of Oguaa to put their house in order to receive such an important personality.
The castle, which is one of the world’s heritage sites and was a major transit point of African slaves to the Americas, is also being painted.
The castle would be one of the places President Obama would visit as part of his tour of the country.
Major monuments such as the court complex around the castle is also being renovated while the ministries’ buildings are seeing renovation for the first time in many years as the town awaits the President of the US, arguably the world’s most powerful nation.
Radio Central, the regional station of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) in Cape Coast, has also introduced a segment on its morning show dubbed: “Obama’s corner” to; help sensitize the residents to the visit and to encourage them to keep the environment clean while they await Obama’s visit.
Some residents the Daily Graphic spoke to said they were grateful to the committees involved in the planning of President Obama’s visit for including a visit to Cape Coast on the programme.”
Isn’t this interesting. There was no story in the Daily Graphic about any committee selecting any place for President Obama to visit! And too bad President Obama isn’t travelling all over the country. The whole country would get a face-life and the people of Ghana would see some improvement in their daily living conditions…but alas…
So, I e-mail my new brother Rabbi Kohain:
Good to hear from you. Really, it’s all a non-debate-check out page 40 in today’s Daily Graphic “Oguaa prepares for President Obama’s visit”.
Wow, a whitewashed Cape Coast Castle-how realistic! And then again it will make a better backdrop for the photo session. After all, President Obama will only be a great marketing tool for Dark Tourism in Ghana! Nothing more.
What a missed opportunity….for Ghana!
Best wishes, my brother
Now in our continuing story….has Cape Coast been approved? Why was there no announcement from the “committees” published in the Daily Graphic? Is Cape Coast jumping the gun? Or was it all decided before the committees were struck?
Ghana is so much more than Cape Coast, slave dungeons, and Dark Tourism. In fact, the U.S. government through its agency responsible for development US AID pulled out of tourism support a long time ago when it realized the projects it had helped develop weren’t being sustained once USAID had passed responsibility to the Ghanaian authorities.
But now with agriculture, the strength of this country, the American taxpayer’s dollar is getting results and lives are being changed for the better, but Obama will see nothing, and if by some miracle in the limited time Obama is here he does visit an American funded project, it will be overshadowed by the big media event at the Castle.
I first commented on Obama’s visit to Ghana in this blog on May 17, 2009:
“Yes, it’s official at least that’s what the NY Times is reporting! On July 10th President Obama will visit Ghana spending just one night here, his first visit to a sub Saharan country since his election. I wonder if he’ll drop any hints of reducing foreign aid spending here. I wonder if he’ll receive any quick high level counsel to do just that…”
Maybe, looking at the above, the U.S. government might do just that! But then again, Ghana is a”trusted partner” of course there are other concerns…
President Obama will go to Cape Coast Castle to placate African Americans everywhere and solidify continued U.S. presence-military or otherwise- in the region , but what about the best interests of the people of Ghana?
This visit is not being organized in the spirit of Obama’s presidency and in the spirit of the Ghanaian people. “Change we can believe in”. It’s just much of the same ole, same ole.