Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
The America president Barack Obama addresses the Ghanaian parliament in Accra.
The America president Barack Obama addresses the Ghanaian parliament in Accra.

Obama: Africa's future in own hands

The US President delivers his keynote speech on his first official trip to the heart of Africa.

The US president Barack Obama today condemned African tyrants who enrich themselves and orchestrate wars and urged Africans to demand stronger governments to give themselves a better future. In a keynote speech on his first official trip to the heart of Africa, Mr Obama vowed more US help to battle disease and said conflicts such as the "genocide" in Darfur and terrorism in Somalia were "a millstone around Africa's neck."

The US president, the son of an African immigrant, said these conflicts needed a global response. "Africa's future is up to Africans," Mr Obama said in an address to the Ghanaian parliament which he hoped would resonate across the continent. But he added many warnings to Africa's leaders and its people. "Development depends upon good governance. That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long," he said. "That is the change that can unlock Africa's potential. And that is a responsibility that can only be met by Africans."

"Repression takes many forms, and too many nations are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty. No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves, or police can be bought off by drug traffickers. "No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 per cent off the top, or the head of the Port Authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, and now is the time for it to end."

"Africa doesn't need strongmen, it needs strong institutions," he declared to applause. Obama said he had instructed his administration to put a greater focus on corruption in its annual human rights reports. Obama highlighted "genocide" in Darfur and "terrorism" in Somalia as crises that have to be battled by the whole world. "Africa is not the crude caricature of a continent at war. But for far too many Africans, conflict is a part of life, as constant as the sun.

"There are wars over land and wars over resources. And it is still far too easy for those without conscience to manipulate whole communities into fighting among faiths and tribes. These conflicts are a millstone around Africa's neck." He praised Ghana's contribution to international peacekeeping forces but said the United States and other countries must help strengthen Africa's capacity to bring security.

"When there is genocide in Darfur or terrorists in Somalia, these are not simply African problems - they are global security challenges, and they demand a global response." Mr Obama offered diplomatic, technical and logistical support for efforts to improve security and "to hold war criminals accountable". The US president also offered a "comprehensive, global health strategy" to help Africa confront the Aids pandemic and other diseases which kill millions each year on the continent.

"When children are being killed because of a mosquito bite, and mothers are dying in childbirth, then we know that more progress must be made," he said. Mr Obama also called on western nations to open up their markets to African goods to help their economies. Thousands of people poured onto the streets of the capital as Obama arrived for the landmark visit. He said he had chosen Ghana as his first trip to sub-Saharan Africa because it was an example of a "functioning democracy" in a conflict-scarred continent.

Crowds waved flags and placards with slogans such as "Obama you are the true son of Africa, we love you." *AFP

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 The Doha-based Youssef Al Qaradawi speaks to the crowd as he leads Friday prayers in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt in February, 2011. The outspoken pro-Muslim Brotherhood imam has been critical of the UAE’s policies toward Islamist groups, adding to friction between Qatar and other GCC states. Khalil Hamra / AP Photo

Brotherhood imam skips Doha sermon, but more needed for GCC to reconcile

That Youssef Al Qaradawi did not speak raises hopes that the spat involving Qatar and the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain might be slowly moving towards a resolution.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 An Afghan election commission worker carries a ballot box at a vote counting centre in Jalalabad on April 6. A roadside bomb hit a truck carrying full ballot boxes in northern Afghanistan, killing three people a day after the country voted for a successor to President Hamid Karzai. Eight boxes of votes were destroyed in the blast, which came as the three leading candidates voiced concerns about possible fraud. Noorullah Shirzada / AFP Photo

Two pressing questions for Afghanistan’s future president

Once in office, the next Afghan president must move fast to address important questions that will decide the immediate future of the country.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Supporters of Turkey's ruling AKP cheer as they follow the election's results in front of the party's headquarters in Ankara on March 30. Adem Altan/ AFP Photo

Erdogan critic fears retaliation if he returns to Turkey

Emre Uslu is a staunch critic of Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Now, with a mass crackdown on opposition expected, he is unsure when he can return home.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National