U.S. President Barack Obama gave a speech in Ghana which could be considered as his Africa policy speech. Cameroonians at home and in the diaspora have been reacting to the words pronounced by the American leader with African roots via the blogosphere.
The speech was published in its entirety on Up Station Mount Club which is fledgling one-stop-shop of Anglophone Cameroonian blogging. The comments give the impressions of a people appreciative of the bright speech but wary of rhetoric.
Augustine S, a Cameroonian based in Canada seems pleased with the speech's direct attack on corruption and bad governance but wants more:
Speech well delivered. It was above expectations. He struck on corruption and good governance, what i wanted to hear. African leaders are stifling the progress of their own nations. I wish his administration goes a long way to exposing corrupt African leaders, punish them by freezing their assets and issuing traveling bans on them and their families. Obama is the kind of leader we need in this world.
Still on the issue of tackling corruption and embezzlement by African leaders Oyez has some advice to western leaders like Obama:
Just two more things are required, and it will go a long way:
1) Deny African rulers, their families and their lieutenants the right to foreign bank accounts and foreign property of any kind.
2) Deny African rulers any kind of medical care outside of Africa.
Those are the only two things we ask the West to do, and we will take care of the rest.
A comment left by Nnokko Johnson brings the Obama speech to Cameroon's door-steps by reminding the country's President, Paul Biya, who has been in power since 1982 and in 2008 oversaw the amendment of the constitution to cancel limitation of presidential terms:
Africa doesn't need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.
MR Biya please take note of this phrase and learn,we dont want u out,but we need strong institutions,please please…
However, reading from many of the comments posted one may come out with the view that Cameroonians see Obama's speech as “good talking” that cannot solve their problems. Emmanuel says:
Home run. Talk, talk, talk, all of it old crap, and ghoulish, to boot.
It does take two to tango. And, Africans are silly to listen to lectures on corruption from the leader of the hegemon of financial, moral and political corruption; it took two to tango with the slave trade, colonialism, and now the era of “partnership.”
Look, this talk of “partnership” is a lie. Only subststantive, not notional equals, can enter into partnerships.
The same rhetoric… I wonder when people stop believing and start acting… We don't need speeches on hope and pledges -they serve to anesthetize the population, that their problems shall be solved -they should hope for the solutions. When the financial crisis hit the US, the President said something similar about the responsibility of Americans to take the charge…Well contri pipo, most Americans are not even in control of their financial lives, lest responsible for the financial collapse, which were created by a greedy clique of bankers….
Well, Obama's speeches are well-written by an impressive staff to do a formidable job. What else do we expect from him? Speeches from his heart about the realities of our current world?
The trend of thought seems to be that, it is for Africans to solve their own problems. As Reex says,
…let us Africans work out our solutions. We may afterward invite Obama to share roasted corn and groundnuts at the fire side and discuss the politics on the ground – neither Ivy League stuff nor the usual double-talk demonstrated by the Western World, those speeches could be reserved to later occasions, when every hungry stomach in Africa has been filled!
A comment from a visitor called Isat is less diplomatic:
What we should really keep as a reminder are these words:”Africa's future is up to Africans.”
And take note: Obama is not African. His grand-father who cooked for the Brits and his father were Africans. He is American and his country's interests rule supreme – no matter how many songs we sing in his praise.
Man wey yi get ear make yi hear.[In Cameroonian pidgin this means: A word to a wise is sufficient]
The Up Station Mountain Club, collective blog also carries a post – Barack Obama in Africa: “Beyond Yes We Can”, yes we must, from Cameroonian blogger Aloysius Agendia in which he exhorts Africans to make a change:
Yes, Africa can revolt against current misleading leadership and their shady deals that have impoverished the continent. Beyond the yes, we can, yes, we must implement the said changes to move forward
This blog also gives a rythmic flavour to this visit as the video of a Cameroonian musician hailing Barack Obama on his election is posted there. The song was released by Tata Kingue just before Obama's inauguration in January 2009 and Gef's Outlook had done a small translation at the time.
Barack Obama Cameroon Song