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Opinions of Friday, 10 July 2009

Columnist: Aduhene, Kofi

Memo To President Barack Obama

Re: What You Should Tell Ghanaians and Africans

Thank you Mr. President for the honor done my motherland by making it your first destination on your “homecoming” trip to your ancestral continent since you became the first Black President of the United States of America. The biggest and loudest Kpanlogo and fontonfrom drums will pipe you and First Lady Michelle to a rapturous AKWAABA. The cheers would be thunderous and the smiles that will greet you brighter than the glow of a full moon.

Amidst the warm Ghanaian hospitality, Mr. President, you are expected to unveil your vision for Africa, your ancestral home. Any speech no matter how soaring and inspiring, would be meaningless if it fails to reprove Africans and their leaders to change their attitude and also challenge them to start charting a new path to end the cycle of poverty and underdevelopment.

Mr. President, in Cairo, you sought a new beginning to repair America’s battered reputation in the Muslim world and you did so with aplomb. In Accra, you should ask for a change in attitude to help Africans wean themselves off foreign dependency. But you need not employ the measured and balanced rhetoric you used to skillfully maneuver the geo-political minefields of the Muslim world and emerged unscathed to the admiration of even avowed Islamic hardliners.

Mr. President, you should save the coy language or diplomatic deference for another audience, not Africans and their leaders. I expect your address to Africans to be punchy, yes, punchy and brutally honest. Please give Africans and their scavenging leaders something more digestible, something they will continue to ponder over long after you are gone and the lenses of the Western media are turned away.

Mr. President, you must have some straight talk with your kindred. Perhaps, this would be the appropriate time to hop on the McCain Straight Talk Bus, if you ever intend to accept a ride from Senator McCain. Africans might be offended by another American President or any other world leader who has the temerity to call them out.

But you, President Obama, do not only have the audacity as the leader of the FREE WORLD, but a responsibility as a true proud beloved son of Africa to speak the truth to your kindred. So this is what CediPost would like you to tell Ghanaians and Africans.

To The African Leaders

First, Mr. President, give your host, President John Atta Mills (Professor J.A.M) a friendly reminder why you chose Ghana as the first country to visit in sub-Saharan Africa in case he like some talking heads is under the impression that your visit has anything to Ghana’s newfound black gold. Please tell Prof. J.A.M. and his government you chose to visit Sika Man (Ghana) to recognize and reward the country for the remarkable progress made towards achieving sustainable peace and stability and most importantly, validate Ghana’s new carved status as a beacon of hope for a new era of African democracy.

With that said, let Professor J.A.M know that the world is watching to see if his government can offer effective, responsible and accountable leadership to make Ghana a repository of hope to end the cycle of underachievement on the continent.

Now, to the rest of the African leaders including Prof. J.A.M, Mr. President, please tell them to put their country and people first before their deep pockets. Please pull the veil of corruption and open the lid for a candid conversation with African political leaders.

Please tell the power-drunk, incorrigible, greedy and selfish politicians the sweat of toiling ordinary citizens are crying from the sweltering mining fields of South Africa to the swamps of the Afram Plains asking for good governance and calling on their leaders to stop squandering the fortunes of their countries. More than anything else, let them know the continent is mired in poverty and hunger largely because of their fundamentally flawed leadership mentality. Please tell them without reservation that under your watch, the era of pillaging is over because the American taxpayer and other multi-national donors can no longer continue to bail out their ailing economies when their “Honorables” legislate to give themselves $40,000 car loans.

Crucially, please tell them under your watch, their leaking begging bowls would not receive another dime from America if they do not end their wasteful spending ways, especially in a recession. Please tell them the American taxpayer is sick of them squandering the billions of dollars in aid they receive annually. The American taxpayer is outraged and we demand some shape or form of real accountability from the African leaders, not the selective witch-hunting and vilification of former political opponents that is perpetuated when a new government comes to power. What I refer to as: “You Do Me and I do You Perennial Accountability of Stewardship.” Above all, in case they were caught up in the euphoria and missed your message in your inaugural address, please tell them again their people would judge them on the opportunities and prosperity they create, not what they destroy.

To The Citizens of Africa

Mr. President, to the multitudes that will throng to the streets to sing your praises, some on empty stomachs, please ask them as you do best, to stop defining their relationship among them along tribal and ethnic differences. Please let those who have adopted your historic victory as their own know that your improbable story as the first Black President of the United States of America would not have been possible had Americans voted along racial lines. You became President because Americans chose unity over bigotry and racism. Please remind them that America with its deep scars of slavery and racial discrimination rose above it and elected you, a descendant of the Luo Tribe of Kenya as President of the United States of American.

Similarly, Africans can and should work towards dissolving the tribal and ethnic lines that continue to divide them and retard their progress. As you told Americans that there are no Red States or blue States, but the United States of America, please tell them to stop defining their relationship along tribal lines.

Please tell them, specifically the people of Sika Man that there are no Ashanti Ghanaians, Fanti Ghanaians, Ewes Ghanaians or Sisila Ghanaians. In the eyes of the world, they are all one people – Ghanaians – with their fate inextricably tied together for prosperity or perpetual misery. So please call on all Africans to put aside their petty differences and embrace their common humanity and work together to lift the continent from poverty and misery. Mr. President, without a doubt you would communicate this more poignantly than I have, but whatever beautiful words you choose to convey this message please do not shy away from telling Africans and their leaders what is asked of them: A Change in Attitude and Personal Responsibility, not their continual dependency on foreign aid.

On that note, Mr. President and First Lady, have a safe and memorable visit to Sika Man.

Credit: Kofi Aduhene, CediPost