When President Obama and the first lady travel to Africa at the end of this month, they will receive a rapturous greeting. The president's deep roots in Kenya, the land of his father, resonate throughout the continent. His success in the United States evokes pride and joy in Africa.
I write this from Nigeria, a country that has just celebrated its 14th year of democracy. President Obama's election enabled Africans to see America in a new light. I hope his visit will enable Americans to see Africa with new eyes.
We know the problems of Africa: its poverty, corruption and conflict. After 246 years of the slave trade, 100 years of colonialism, African suffering and struggle are known. But perhaps the president's visit will enable us to see the possibilities.
Africa is the second-largest continent in the world, larger than China, the United States and Europe combined in land area. Its peoples number about one-eighth of the world's population. It is a richly endowed continent, providing some 22 percent of the world's gold, 55 percent of its diamonds, and 12.5 percent of its oil. Seven of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are in sub-Saharan Africa. It is still marked by poverty, but extreme poverty has been declining at about 1 percent a year.
Nigeria has twice the population of any other African country. It is growing at 7 percent a year, and will be Africa's largest economy within the decade. It is a major supplier of oil to the U.S., and potentially a major trading partner. Nigeria's GDP is three times that of any other West African country. It is the largest destination for foreign direct investment on the continent. It sends 7,100 students to the U.S. for university programs. Its democracy is taking root. The sun is rising in this land of potential.
Nigeria still has deep challenges to overcome. Its infrastructure is outmoded; its health care and education systems inadequate; corruption remains a curse, and 60 percent of the population remains below the poverty line. Like many African countries, it struggles with an exodus of professionals.
The president will visit Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa with a large delegation of business leaders and investors. Tanzania and Senegal are among the fastest-growing economies on the continent. The U.S. is not the only country interested in these new possibilities. The president will arrive in Tanzania three months after Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit. Americans will get a new understanding of how aggressively China has reached out to Africa, providing aid, investments and securing supplies of oil and other raw materials. For economic, national security and humanitarian concerns, America has every reason to open up closer ties with the nations on that continent.
Independent Africa is still young. It was only 57 years ago when Kwame Nkrumah founded Ghana, its first independent nation. Now there are young, growing democracies, moving from the struggle for independence to the struggle for legitimate governance and economic development. Think of the United States 50 years after its historic revolution. Our institutions were still being formed; we were still trading in slaves, denying women equal rights, headed toward a violent civil war.
Democracy and development are roads with twists and turns. In Africa, as the president's visit will expose, the turns are now positive. We would be well advised to contribute to the progress, to invest in the promise, and to bolster the push for human rights, development and democracy.
Rev. Jackson, the founder of Rainbow PUSH Coalition and he twice ran for presidency in United States.Keep up with Rev. Jackson and the work of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition at www.rainbowpush.org.
The above description of Achebe was made in a letter released by The White House and addressed to the family of Achebe. The letter was read by a representative from Obama’s White House at the Celebration of Life event for Late Chinua Achebe, which took place on last Sunday night, June 2, at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium, Washington, DC.
The letter from President Obama and The First Lady Mitchell Obama read:
“Achebe shattered the conventions of literature and shaped the collective identity of Nigerians throughout the world. With a dream of taking on misperceptions of his homeland, he gave voice to perspectives that cultivated understanding and drew our world closer together. His legacy will endure in the hearts of all whose lives he touched with the everlasting power of his art.”
There were cultural highlights at the occasion including a theatrical rendition of a scene from Achebe‘s Things Fall Apart, which was produced by Mike Chuck theater, a former Nigeria based US citizen.
Notable personalities and entertainments at celebration include, “The Afrobeat band Eme and Heteru serenaded the crowd with electrifying music. Speakers included the host, Johnnetta Cole, president emeriti of Spelman and Bennet Colleges and now director of the Smithonian Museum of African Art; Ruth Simmons, former president of Brown University; Poets Sonia Sanchez, Micere Mugo and Simon Gikandi. Others are Scott Moyers – president of Penguin, and Jules Chametzky professor emeriti of Umass Amherst, where Achebe spent time in the 1970s and ‘80s.”
Barring an unlikely politically negotiated detour, the United States President, Barack Obama, and his wife, Michelle, will not visit Nigeria on their forthcoming African tour, billed to take them to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania between June 26 and July 3.The White House announced last week the exclusion of Nigeria from Obama’s African itinerary, apparently, as a way of delivering a strong message to the country’s rulers on their slack anti-corruption policy and poor human rights record. Subsequent reports on the matter, however, indicate that Nigeria’s ambassador to the United States, Prof. Ade Adefuye, is exploring the possibility of getting the US to change its mind by reinserting Nigeria on the list of countries to be visited by Obama.
Flash back to the twilight months of 1975 when Gen. Murtala Muhammed at the time Nigeria’s Head of State pointedly rebuffed the US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, who had proposed to visit Nigeria, and see what a sea change had occurred in Nigeria’s foreign policy as well as national self-worth. In that glorious season, we called the bluff of the US; today, we cringe before that same country, beseeching it to consider Nigeria worthy of being visited by its president. By way of explanation, let us recall that Muhammed’s government and to a lesser extent the successor government of Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo were reformist, nationalist and enjoyed popular legitimacy on account of proven, not rhetorical achievements. Nigeria relished the spotlight as a haven for anti-colonial rebels across the continent including those from apartheid South Africa.
It must be recorded as a touching irony that South Africa, whose liberation was in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, a defining and much-acclaimed credo of our vigorous foreign policy is listed today on Obama’s itinerary while Nigeria, the liberator, is shoved aside. What has changed about Nigeria that it should now become the butt of the derisive snubbing and dismissive scorn around the globe? In the 1970’s, there was a nation around which nationalism could be projected. Today, the nation is imploding, and retreating to its least common denominators. That is why an Asari Dokubo could threaten war, if his kinsman loses the election in 2015; and insurgent Islamists could institute a reign of terror, verging on attempted secession in another part of the country. Nigeria is viewed with the contempt that one reserves for a neighbouring family where husband and wife square up to each other in fisticuffs on the verandah, disturbing the peace of the entire neighbourhood.
That is not all. A diminution of leadership is today superimposed on a crisis of governance, with predictable diminishing returns for governmental output. South Africa, a federation like Nigeria, obviously has its problems but it had as president and now statesman, Nelson Mandela, who put his country on the world map both by bridge-building skills and by quitting office when the ovation was loudest. As the ongoing, tawdry squabble in the Nigerian Governors’ Forum shows, much of it engineered from outside, dishonourable shenanigans and dishonesty rule the political roost, mainly because of what Chief Obafemi Awolowo was fond of calling “tenacity of office”. Let us face it. There is hardly anything in the US’ dressing down of Nigeria that has not been pointed out by the civil society and, permit the self-indulgence, by this columnist. What domestic and international reactions did the Jonathan administration expect when it granted state pardon to a former Bayelsa State governor, who is on the list of wanted persons in several countries around the globe? Should not that decision have been weighed in the light of the government’s loudly advertised anti-corruption policy and of global public opinion?
Now, the rub. As condemnation at home and abroad trailed the state pardon, with a US journalist calling for the impeachment of Jonathan, our President was quoted to have said that he had no regret taking that universally denounced and reprehensible step. In other words, as the Americans would say “in your face”. Could not the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Jonathan’s many advisers have pointed out the implications of exploring the borders of a pariah outlook in the international community and for no other reason than helping out a fallen mentor? I do not defend the US which is not without its own human rights blemishes, symbolised by the excesses of the war on terror and the horrifying narratives that poured out of its naval base in Guantanamo. Yet, it is hard to deny that through our blunders and inaction we have often earned the rebuke of other countries, including those of our better governed, smaller neighbours.
There are occasions as in the example of the 1970’s cited earlier when a reformist government could rally the nation against the big brother insults of a foreign power. But this is not one of them; as we did not need the US to tell us that the anti-corruption agenda of the Jonathan administration has lost its steam, that is if indeed there was any ab initio, and that business-as-usual is the name of the game in our political setting. Our leaders do not expect other democracies to congratulate them for flouting emerging governance norms in the global neighbourhood; or, for treating Nigerians with the contempt reserved for subjects of autocratic rule, rather than citizens of a democracy.
It is not too late, however especially in the light of the current rebuff, for Nigeria’s leaders to begin to do things right as well as enthrone decency in the polity and in state-society relations. Even rogue states within the international system must live with certain restrictions on their conduct as long as they remain in the comity of nations. The administration should consider breathing a new life into the comatose anti-corruption agenda; as well as by the force of example, institute new norms that would stem and slow down the current fiendish and fiery political skirmishes, in the run-up to 2015.
Furthermore, is it not time to recompact this tottering nation by convoking a national conference that will seek to revalidate our eroding sense of nationhood and community or in the alternative, prescribe modalities for nationalities to go their separate ways without needless bloodletting? As argued earlier, there can be no nationalism without a nation; and there can be no nation without the consent of the nationalities. The current federal jamboree favours the emergence of second elevens as state officials and the elevation of mediocrity and visionless government into fundamental directives of state policy. It is time to renegotiate Nigeria. The earlier we toed this line, the better for us all.
Since Barack Obama became President of the United States, interest has increased about the Luo people of Kenya and the other Luo speaking nationalities in general. So, who are the Luo people?
Of the over 42 ethnic groups that make up Kenya, the Luo are one of the most important. The Luo ethnic group is the third largest community in Kenya and makes up to 14% of the entire population. Also found in Uganda, Tanzania and Sudan, they are part of a larger group of ethnolinguistically related Luo peoples from South Sudan to Tanzania. They speak the Dholuo language. Luo speaking peoples include the Acholi of Uganda and South Sudan, and the Langi, Padhola and Alur of Uganda. There are about 12 sub groups within the Luo ethnic group. Although originally cattle herders, they have adopted fishing and subsistence agriculture.,
Culturally, the Luo are one of the few ethnic groups that do not circumcise their males as an initiation to manhood. Instead in Luo traditions, initiation involves the removal of six teeth from the lower jaw. Marriage is important to the Luo who traditionally practiced have polygamy. Men are allowed to marry up to five wives, though this is not common anymore. Bride price is negotiated and money and cattle are paid by the groom to the bridal parents. Also among the Luo, wife inheritance used to be common. If a man dies, one of his brothers or close relatives inherits his widow and must meet all of her marital inheritance. In the modern era, wife inheritance is slowly fading away. The incidence of HIV/AIDS has led to the promotion of circumcision among the Luo.
Like most ethnic groups in Kenya and Africa, the coming of the Europeans changed their religious beliefs. Most Luo consider themselves as Christians. Nevertheless, the spirits of of their ancestors play an important role in their spiritual beliefs. The Luo traditionally believe in after life and a supreme creator, whom they called Nyasaye. The first ritual in a Luo persons life is called Juogi, the naming ceremony. The child is supposed to assume some of the mannerisms of the ancestor he or she is named after. If the ancestor is quiet or talkative, he or she is supposed to acquire the same mannerisms.
The Luo ethnic group have been a major player in Kenyan political life since pre-colonial times. Unlike many other Kenyan ethnic groups, they did not have their land taken by the European settlers. Though they were not particularly prominent in the Mau Mau rebellion, they played an active part in Kenyan independence. At independence, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, a Luo, became the first Vice President of Kenya, before falling out with President Jomo Kenyatta. Despite their prominence, the Luos have always felt marginalized and disenfranchised by the more numerous Kikuyu. In 1969, a prominent Luo politician, Tom Mboya was assassinated. Most Luos believe he was assassinated on the orders of President Kenyatta, who saw him as a potential presidential challenger. In the 1980’s another prominent Luo personality Robert Ouko, was also assassinated. Ouko was Foreign Minister of Kenya before he fell out with then President Daniel Arap Moi. Again, fingers were pointed at President Moi. The riots that broke out 2007 after the election of Nwai Kibaki(Kikuyu) over Raila Odinga (Luo), was part of the Luo frustration at feeling marginalized politically.
Some prominent Luo politicians include former Vice President,Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, former Minister of Economic Planning and Development,Tom Mboya, former Minister of Defence, Achieng Oneko, former Foreign Minister, Robert Ouko, current Prime Minister, Raila Odinga and Barack Obama, Sr.
*Dr. Leonard Madu is President of the African Caribbean Institute of Nashville and African Chamber of Commerce. He is also a Fox TV foreign affairs analyst and writes from Nashville, TN.
He is cool like that!!
Fist bump is an American thing! An acknowledgement and a confirmation that it is all good. Fist bumps in the life of President Obama took a life of its own when the then "Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama bump fists at an election night rally at the Xcel Energy Center June 3, 2008 in St. Paul, Minnesota and the next day he won Democratic presidential nomination after the primaries in South Dakota and Montana.
Now Fist Bumping is becoming Obama's trademark of salutation and acknowledgement.
(PHOTO JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
US President Barack Obama (L) asks for a fist bump from a young girl as he speaks with patrons outside the Kozy Corner restaurant in Oak Harbor, Ohio, July 5, 2012, where he made an unannounced visit to speak with supporters while on a bus tour of Ohio and Pennslyvania. AFP PHOTO/Jim Watson (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/GettyImages)
Pictures compilation: huffington post
President Obama arrives in Israel on a official visit
"It took four years and a second term, but President Obama traveled to Israel on Wednesday for a richly symbolic state visit, bearing a message of solidarity to a wary Israeli public, and a promise to defend Israel from threats near and far." - New York Times
President Obama with President Shimon Peres of Israel Photo Credit: Doug Mills/The New York Times
At Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv President Obama was greeted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Photos Credit: Doug Mills/The New York Times
Is it a coincidence or viewers running away with their imagination about the so-called resemblance between the satan played by Moroccan actor Mehdi Ouazzani and President Obama on the History Channel series 'The Bible.'
Does The Devil from the History Channel series 'The Bible' - satan looks similar to President Barack Obama?
"The resemblance between Moroccan actor Mehdi Ouazzani and President Obama left some viewers of 'The Bible' taking to Twitter to express their amazement." - Daily Mail UK
In United States of America, the "Sunday evening's episode of the History Channel's hit series 'The Bible' threw up an awkward coincidence when viewers noticed that Satan bore a remarkable resemblance to President Obama. Twitter exploded into life during the airing of the latest edition of the Mark Burnett-produced series with most noting the striking similarities between the 44th President and the devil played by actor Mehdi Ouzaani.
The show has been a surprise hit in the ratings, with the religious mini-series attracting 13.1 million viewers on Wednesday - topping television leviathan American Idol's 12.8 million viewers on Wednesday."
It's official: Visitors to the Facebook page of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have chosen a logo for President Obama's visit to Israel next month.
The winner, above, got 2,600 "likes" beating out two others (below), which garnered 786 and 521, respectively.
Netayahu's office is promising a big social media push around the visit. So far, there has been much more publicity about the trip in Israel than there has been in the United States. The Israeli government last month even released a tentative schedule for the president, something the White House has declined to talk about at all.
The media in Israel, it seems, are taking the hubbub in stride, even jabbing a little fun at it.
"One government official deflected criticism that the logo idea was kitschy, saying there was a great deal of public enthusiasm in the visit, and this was one way of tapping into it," the Jerusalem Post reports. "He chuckled dismissively when asked if there would also be a soft drink sponsor."
Here are the second- and third-place logo designs:
President Obama’s big speech on immigration in Las Vegas at an event where he is asking for sweeping reforms to the United States immigration laws.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you.
Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. (APPLAUSE)
Thank you. It is good to be back in Las Vegas.
And it is good to be among so many good friends. Let -- let me start off by thanking everybody at Del Sol High School for hosting us.
Go Dragons. Let me especially thank your outstanding principal, Lisa Primos (ph).
There are all kinds of notable guests here, but I just want to mention a few. First of all, our outstanding secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, is here.
Our wonderful secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar.
Former Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.
Two of the outstanding members of the congressional delegation from Nevada, Steve Horsford and Dina Titus.
Your own mayor, Carolyn Goodman.
But we also have some mayors that flew in because they know how important the issue we’re going to talk about today is -- Marie Lopez Rogers from Avondale, Arizona...
... Kasim Reed from Atlanta, Georgia...
... Greg Stanton from Phoenix, Arizona...
... and Ashley Swearengin from Fresno, California...
(APPLAUSE) ... and all of you are here, as well as some of the top labor leaders in the country, and we are just so grateful -- some outstanding business leaders are here as well. And of course, we’ve got wonderful students here. So I could not be prouder of our students.
Now, those of you who have a seat, feel free to take a seat. I don’t mind.
I love you back.
Last week -- last week, I had the honor of being sworn in for a second term as president of the United States.
And during my inaugural address, I talked about how making progress on the defining challenges of our time doesn’t require us to settle every debate or ignore every difference that we may have, but it does require us to find common ground and move forward in common purpose. It requires us to act.
I know that some issues will be harder to lift than others. Some debates will be more contentious. That’s to be expected. But the reason I came here today is because of a challenge where the differences are dwindling; where a broad consensus is emerging; and where a call for action can now be heard coming from all across America.
OBAMA: I’m here today because the time has come for common sense, comprehensive immigration reform.
The time is now.
Now’s the time.
Now’s the time.
Now’s the time.
I’m here because -- I’m here because most Americans agree that it’s time to fix the system that’s been broken for way too long. I’m here because business leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, law enforcement, and leaders from both parties are coming together to say now is the time to find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as the land of opportunity.
Obama's immigration platform is based on the following principles, according to a fact sheet released by the White House:
- Continuing to Strengthen Border Security: President Obama has doubled the number of Border Patrol agents since 2004 and today border security is stronger than it has ever been. But there is more work to do. The President’s proposal gives law enforcement the tools they need to make our communities safer from crime. And by enhancing our infrastructure and technology, the President’s proposal continues to strengthen our ability to remove criminals and apprehend and prosecute national security threats.
- Cracking Down on Employers Hiring Undocumented Workers: Our businesses should only employ people legally authorized to work in the United States. Businesses that knowingly employ undocumented workers are exploiting the system to gain an advantage over businesses that play by the rules. The President’s proposal is designed to stop these unfair hiring practices and hold these companies accountable. At the same time, this proposal gives employers who want to play by the rules a reliable way to verify that their employees are here legally.
- Earned Citizenship: It is just not practical to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants living within our borders. The President’s proposal provides undocumented immigrants a legal way to earn citizenship that will encourage them to come out of the shadows so they can pay their taxes and play by the same rules as everyone else. Immigrants living here illegally must be held responsible for their actions by passing national security and criminal background checks, paying taxes and a penalty, going to the back of the line, and learning English before they can earn their citizenship. There will be no uncertainty about their ability to become U.S. citizens if they meet these eligibility criteria. The proposal will also stop punishing innocent young people brought to the country through no fault of their own by their parents and give them a chance to earn their citizenship more quickly if they serve in the military or pursue higher education.
- Streamlining Legal Immigration: Our immigration system should reward anyone who is willing to work hard and play by the rules. For the sake of our economy and our security, legal immigration should be simple and efficient. The President’s proposal attracts the best minds to America by providing visas to foreign entrepreneurs looking to start businesses here and helping the most promising foreign graduate students in science and math stay in this country after graduation, rather than take their skills to other countries. The President’s proposal will also reunify families in a timely and humane manner.
President Obama and Hillary Clinton tour the Wat Pho Royal Monastery with Chaokun Suthee Thammanuwat, the Dean, Faculty of Buddhism Assistant to the Abbot of Wat Phra Chetuphon in Bangkok, Thailand, Nov. 18, 2012. AP
Obama and Clinton wave as they arrive at Yangon International Airport in Yangon, Myanmar, on Air Force One, Nov. 19, 2012. It was the first visit to Myanmar by a sitting U.S. president. AP
Clinton and Obama walk to the Oval Office from the Rose Garden of the White House, Sept. 12, 2012, after the president spoke on the death of U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. AP
President Obama smiles as he is seated with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the start of a Cabinet meeting at the White House, May 3, 2011. AP
Obama, with Clinton, delivers a statement on Libya in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Feb. 23, 2011. AP
Obama meets with his national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan, March 12, 2010, in the Situation Room. From left are, Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, United States Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, and the president. AP
Hillary Clinton confers with President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama prior to a reception in the Yellow Oval Room of the White House for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India and his wife, Mrs Gursharan Kaur, Nov. 24, 2009. (Photo: White House)
Obama meets with his national security team including Undersecretary of State Bill Burns (right) and Hillary Clinton, Sept. 30, 2009, in the Situation Room.(Photo: White House)
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (left) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greet President Obama as he arrives to addresses a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Sept. 9, 2009. AP
Obama signs a proclamation celebrating the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in the East Room of the White House Friday, July 24, 2009. From left: Rep. Jim Langevin, Sen. Daniel Inouye, Rep. Steny Hoyer, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, Obama, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. AP
Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (left) talk in the Oval Office, June 26, 2009. At right is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. AP
President Obama tours the Sultan Hassan Mosque with Secretary of State Clinton in Cairo, Egypt, June 4, 2009. AP