Obama in Ghana: The Capacity of Hope

By Nontando Hadebe 07-14-2009

The visit by U.S. President Barack Obama to Ghana this past weekend was described as his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa. This means that the visit was not seen as just to Ghana but to this region as a whole. The excitement in Ghana reflected the excitement of many in the region. The choice of Ghana was significant because it was a focus on potential and capacity in Africa.

Ghana's closely contested elections had the potential for violence, but the decision by the opposition leader to graciously accept defeat pointed to a capacity for new political consciousness that embraces democracy and puts the interests of the people first above party politics and personal power. By tapping into this capacity, President Obama was then able to connect with the people and present his 'tough love' speech to a receptive audience. His call to take responsibility for our own development and destiny was linked to the capacity demonstrated by Ghana and other countries in the region and brought a unique 'yes we can' message for Africa.

Aware of the legacy of colonialism, President Obama acknowledged its role but challenged Africans to work with this legacy without being fixated on it and blaming everything that goes wrong on the past

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