Obama, Africa, and Truth-Telling | Sojourners

Obama, Africa, and Truth-Telling

Now that the Cold War that was anything but cold in Africa is over; now that the CIA, as far as we know, no longer pays for the overthrow and murder of democratically elected leaders as it did with Patrice Lumumba of the Congo in 1960; now that the United States no longer supports African kleptocrats that hold power through brutal thug rule as did Joseph Mobutu in the Congo later named Zaire; now that the U.S. through the CIA no longer sends millions of dollars in cash and weapons to support one side of a civil war in Angola, the side also supported by the apartheid government of South Africa; now that the U.S. no longer provides weapons to a particular side of a conflict in Somalia, leaving leftover weapons to fall into the hands of clans at war; and now that the U.S. no longer ignores genocide the way it did in Rwanda, the vote of Africans is sacred. Now, according to President Obama, "Africa's future is up to Africans."

In other important speeches to the world, President Obama has been courageous in telling the truth of the misdeeds of the United States. His critics call these simple statements of truth apologies. I have never heard an apology, even though an apology would be fitting. Still, stating the facts is important. It is important not only for the Other, but it is important for citizens of the United States to know what various administrations have done in our name. Truth-telling is an important element of just peacemaking. The truth is that our hands are not clean when it comes to much of the post-colonial confusion in Africa.

President Obama spoke about the colonial history of Africa from within the context of his own family's story