It is interesting that former US president Barack Obama has been invited to deliver this year’s Nelson Mandela memorial lecture, scheduled for July, on the 100th anniversary of the birth of our most famous citizen. Obama himself has not hidden his excitement at the invitation, either.
However, we must caution that the man – despite his many achievements as president and before then – should not be canonised for his contribution to Africa.
In assessing Obama, especially from outside the borders of the US, one should be realistic. And the realism should include the fact that, under his watch, there was little deviation from classic American post World War II foreign policy … that is, it believes it is the global policeman.
Under Obama, more drone strikes were launched against “terrorists” than under any previous American leader. He also approved strikes on targets on the African continent. Whether those strikes were justified will be judged by history – suffice it to say he pursued an overseas agenda which was agreeable to Big Business and in particular the arms industry.
In this, though, he was no different to any other American president. For that country, Africa is almost an irrelevance. The sooner we understand that truism, the better …