E. Ethelbert Miller's Blog

Beating the Old Drum Again?

By E. Ethelbert Miller

I just reviewed President Obama’s speech to the Ghanaian Parliament. What he gave was almost an old campaign speech, in other words if it plays in America it might just play in Accra. Obama was in lecture mode. The Ghanaian Parliament reminded me of Howard University during freshman orientation week. The only thing different was the age of the listeners and the presence of kente cloth.

Obama can call for “Africa for the Africans” and it sounds like a nice drum beat or Nkrumah plays Motown, but let’s be real and critical for a moment. Obama spoke about moving beyond colonialism but he never mentioned the word Neo-colonialism. Much of the exploitation of Africa and many of the conflicts are perpetuated by outside interests. Funny how Obama can talk about Africa being a partner without questioning the “partnership” the continent has with a nation like China. Should we talk about Sudan here?

Obama divided his speech into four areas of concern:

– Democracy
– Opportunity
– Health
– Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts

Brother President’s speechwriters seem to often use an FDR framework. 4-4-4 might soon sound like Moses Malone talking about the NBA playoffs. By using the 4 point outline, Obama squeezed ideas into his speech that seem to borrow a Middle Passage strategy. Pack one’s ideas tightly and maybe a few will survive.

I think too much attention is being given to elections and the word democracy right now, without discussing the historical process and the stages that are necessary to reach it. Instead of talking about partnerships with Africa – we need to be encouraging a “Renaissance” and maybe pulling out those old texts written by Kuanda. Humanism anyone? To what extent does Neo-colonialism keep Africa in almost a feudal state? Is it in the interests of some corporations to promote democracy in Africa? Why end wars and tribal conflicts if you can exploit natural resources without the restrictions of a strong state or national government? Criminals have “partners” too.

If we are going to talk once again about “Africa for the Africans” then the responsibility for Africa’s future will rest with its intellectuals, not it’s political leaders or businessmen. Where are the visionary thinkers of Africa? Are they in exile? How engaged are they in trying to solve the problems of Africa? Did the AIDS epidemic and other health problems destroy a generation ofAfrican leaders? Does anyone talk about a lost generation? Has Africa missed its historical moment? Let’s be honest here if we are talking tough love.

I see Africa simply becoming the new military playground for the war on terrorism. The nations to watch will be those African countries with a Muslim population. The future of Africa might depend on what happens in Somalia, Sudan and Northern Nigeria. When I look to the future I only see more bombs falling, more refugees, more hunger and death in these regions.

We’ve already seen a number of American institutions not being able to make it into the future, it looks like we might have to add a few nations or maybe even a continent to the list. The sum of Africa’s problems might demand that we declare bankruptcy and start all over again. This time maybe it will be Africa for the Africans. Right now we’re struggling to escape what is the equivalent of the Madoff era. Neo-colonialism ain’t nothin but a Ponzi scheme.

[Article published in Ebony Jet}

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