Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bush's Legacy in Africa?

I found this BBC article on Bush policies in Africa very interesting. It points out a lot of positives the current administration has in African policies.

During the Bush administration, I traveled in Kenya more than once, and in Uganda, Rwanda, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Madagascar. I never once met anyone who liked President Bush. I was almost always asked about him, in every interaction with African people, even buying something at a shop or talking with a waiter. No one liked Bush, and they went out of their way to tell me that - and also to tell me they did not dislike Americans but liked them very much, just not our President. My last few trips, everyone knew about Obama and wanted to know what I thought of him. Everyone was optimistic but many people asked me if I thought America could have a black President. I was optimistic.

I found it interesting how much Americans knew about U.S. news and politics, vs. how little we know about their events and leaders most of the time. I also find it curious that amidst apparently "positive" U.S. policy, Bush was universally hated by every African I met.

During the Obama administration I plan to visit Tanzania, at a minimum. I am looking forward to seeing what the Tanzanian people have to say.

Here in the U.S., I'm assisting a refugee family from Burundi. They are still learning English, and can speak almost none. Yet they told me with great enthusiasm than Barak Obama will be President, and that he is a black man like them.

I share their enthusiasm. I will be very interested to see what this man, with Kenyan connections and a global perspective, does with African policy - as interested as I am to see what he does with U.S. domestic policy.

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