White House seeks to ensure "soft landing" for Obama's June visit to Africa

U.S. President Barack Obama
By The Editor-in-Chief

Coming on the heels of the emerging scandals that have the Obama White House on the defensive, the latter announced this week that President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, would be visiting Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania from June 26th to July 3rd on the president's next visit to Africa.

This would be the president's second visit to Africa, his last and only visit being the trip to Ghana in 2009 when he only stayed for a day.

It would seem that the president's Africa itinerary has been careful selected to include rather small democracies such as Tanzania and Senegal, with South Africa being the only major African democracy on the list.

There have been several reports on how unpopular this president is on the African continent, mostly due to perceived attempts (on the part of this administration through the U.S. State Department) to impose values and policies seen as alien to the core fabric of African society.

It is therefore not much of a surprise that deeply conservative countries such as Nigeria (the most populous African country and the continent's second largest economy after South Africa) as well as Obama's own father's home country of Kenya, are conspicuously missing from the itinerary. 

The U.S. President is extremely unpopular in Kenya at the moment (evidenced by the victory of Uhuru Kenyatta over his preferred candidate - Raila Odinga). The same can also be said of his popularity in Nigeria, more-so as a result of the perceived indifference of this administration, to the Islamic insurgency that has claimed over 2000 lives in the northern part of Nigeria.

Furthermore, the statement by White House press secretary Jay Carney that "apart from strengthening democratic institutions and investing in the next generation of African leaders, this upcoming trip seeks to underscore the President’s commitment to broadening and deepening cooperation between the United States and the people of sub-Saharan Africa to advance regional and global peace and prosperity", flies in the face of reason, in light of how this administration has turned a disconcerting blind eye to the genocidal actions of Al Qaeda-backed Islamic militants in much of West Africa (following the overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Ghaddafi).

Still along those lines, referring to the likes of Jacob Zuma and Jakaya Kikwete as "the next generation of African leaders" is at best laughable.

It remains to be seen if this president will for once seek to navigate an African foreign policy initiative grounded in mutual respect and a true understanding of Africa's complex political landscape.