In a blog post yesterday on the Huffington Post, Enough Policy Adviser Colin Thomas-Jensen reflected on the new president’s influence in raising the profile of Africa.
Some early thoughts on Obama’s legacy in Africa
A lasting legacy for Obama in Africa ought not to be defined by a single issue or set of issues, but by the arrival of Africa as an equal partner and important player in global affairs.
As the son of an African, President Obama could have a truly transformative effect on the lives of ordinary Africans. His administration will of course work assiduously to address urgent crises in Sudan, DRC, Somalia, Zimbabwe, and elsewhere. However, given the extraordinary popularity that President Obama already enjoys in Africa, the Obama administration is in a position to press for meaningful progress toward more democratic and transparent governance. If the administration seizes this opportunity, President Obama’s legacy will be to have positioned Africa in the mainstream of U.S. foreign policy by replacing recycled and hollow platitudes about governance, democracy, development, and stability with nuanced policies to improve the everyday lives of people across the continent.
Seizing this opportunity begins with an investment in people. Africa is currently an afterthought for most U.S. policymakers–either a diplomatic backwater or a stepping-stone toward a diplomatic career in regions of the world with greater prestige. There are few career Africanists in the bureaucracy, and the result has often been a cookie cutter approach to policy that has seldom yielded the desired results. President Obama can change that by elevating Africa’s significance in his foreign policy, by helping Americans understand how the well-being of Africa and our own well-being are interconnected, by developing a roster of talented and committed Americans to staff embassies and offices that deal with Africa, and by demanding nothing short of the most rigorous analysis and careful consideration in developing policy.
To read Colin’s full post, click here.