Hillary Clinton’s Visit: Any Hope for Africans?

Hillary R.  Clinton

Hillary R. Clinton

One thing that could not be denied from around the world is the fact that the United States of America still remains the world leading country. Despite the ‘illegal’ invasion or, for most time, what I would refer to as the ‘diplomatic overthrow’ of a serving Head of State in Iraq, the US still dominates world affairs and politics.

Some few days back, the United State’s Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was in African for a seven nation-tour. This happened to be the second high profile visit ever undertaken by the Obama administration to Africa, following Barrack Obama’s fist visit to Africa’s Ghana, a country often referred to as the pride of West Africa.

Prior to Clinton’s visit, media and political analysts in African surmised that what she was going to tell Africans was not going to be  far different from what Obama had told Ghanaians during his recent visit to that beautiful West African State.  Whilst in Ghana, Obama called on Ghanaian authorities and by extension all African leaders to be serious with the fight against corruption and to ensure, the promotion of good governance.  In Ghana, Obama maintained that no amount of foreign aid will push Africa to the highest level of development without the concerted efforts of Africans to take that responsibility.

The issues of accountability and the promotion of good governance are always prominent features to Africa politics and politicians; taking into cognizance the way and manner these two issues have been dampened to the extent that an issue like corruption has almost become part of African governance system.

The Analyst, a privately owned newspaper in Liberia is quoted to have stated that ‘Clinton’s message to Liberia will be not different from what President Barrack Obama’s message to Africans during his address to the Ghanaian Parliament. In a way, this assertion by the newspaper in question proved to be right, mindful of what Hilary told most; if not all the countries she visited in Africa.

In Nigeria, she called for more democratic reforms and the need to strengthen the fight against corruption. .She spent something like 36 hours in Nigeria where she had talks with key players in the country’s democratic setup, including the President Umaru Yar’Adua. Nigeria is seen as one of, if not the most corrupt nation in the West African sub-region. This was even the view of the Assistant US Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, who had told Reuters that the country is the most important country in sub-Saharan Africa but also ‘the most corrupt state in Africa’. No wonder that when Hilary visited Africa, and especially Nigeria, she was blunt in her words on corruption.

Hilary Clinton narrowly could not visit Sierra Leone, which is just a stone throw from Liberia. However, she was in Liberia. And in Liberia, she used her visit to express the United States of America’s continuous support to the country with specific emphasis on the country’s support for President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. It is significant to note that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Liberia has in principle barred the current President of the country from contesting future elections  due to her support to ex-President Charles Taylor when he was leading the rebellion in Liberia.

Charlse Taylor is currently standing trail in the UN backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, in The Hague, for crimes he allegedly committed during Sierra Leone’s civil carnage.   Though president Sirleaf is reported to have publicly apologize to the Liberian people for her initial support to Taylor, there was however the need for the US Secretary of State to have taken due cognizance of what the TRC of the country stated.

One interesting thing that actually occurred prior to the visit of Mrs. Clinton was the fact that four Presidents, out of the seven she visited, including that of Liberia, Senegal, Rwanda and Botswana   declared that they were looking forward to receiving  ‘collaborators’ for the continent’s development  and not ‘patrons’. This message sends a clear indication that African leaders were tried with almost always the same people coming with the same sugar quoted words, but with very little action. And this is the time that Africans should been seen taking leadership over their development strides.

This is a message to the world leaders that it is high time they stopped the talking and should be fulfilling their promises to Africa. Look at what is happening at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; African voice and representation is so insignificant that the continent was left with no option but to call for the formation of the African Caucus. And whiles Clinton was busy with her visit to these seven African nations, Bank Governors and Ministers of Finance were in Sierra Leone having a meeting on how to ensure adequate representation in the Bretton Woods Institutions which comprise of the World Bank and the IMF .Ministers of Finance of African countries as well as Bank Governors have committed their preparedness to implement policies that are central to promotion of economic growth and also achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

And during a  ‘meet the press’ session that was held after the end to the Caucus meeting, I asked Sierra Leone’s Minister of Finance whether as a  continent, Africa has the potential to overcome the current global economic crisis and  he was sure, it has the potentials and spoke of  short terms measures they have identified to salvage this problem. So as Clinton was all over the continent talking on the need to strengthen democracy and the fight against corruption, African finance gurus were also busy chatting the way forward to their problems.

But that was not just the end to it; Hilary Clinton was also in the Democratic Republic of Congo where she called for an end to widespread sexual abuse against women; and she pledged millions of dollars to help in fighting such crime. Well, it is only hoped that those promises would be met one day.

Generally, the expectations of Africans from Clinton and by extension from an Obama led US administration are high but the point is that the US can just perform miracles to meet those expectations. Africa needs more now that even, especially in terms of fighting HIV/AIDS,  the fight against corruption and the strengthening of democratic institutions . But it is only when the people of the continent see the need to join hands in chatting the path of development for the continent, then there is no hope, when one critically looks at the recent visit by Hilary Clinton to African.

Literally, there is a scare on the conscience of Africans; that scare  has to do with the way  democratic credentials are been maintained, it has to do with the high level of corruption that is pervasive in all governments across Africa and it has to do with the poor representation that the continent has in world leading financial institutions. And until we address some of these issues, then we are not sure of reaching the needed goal of development.

© 2009, John Baimba Sesay. All rights reserved. – The views expressed here are purely those of the author and not necessarily those of the publishers. – Newstime Africa content cannot be reproduced in any form – electronic or print – without prior consent of the Publishers. Copyright infringement will be pursued and perpetrators prosecuted.

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