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An Open Letter To President Barack Obama On Africa

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By Charles Quist-Adade

Allow me the singular honour to say Akwaba (Welcome) in advance of your historic visit to “Black Africa.” I ask for Providence’s guidance and wisdom and the protection and blessings of our ancestors. As you make this historic trip to the continent, I will like to make the following humble requests to you in a form of this open letter.
Your Excellency:

Allow me the singular honour to say Akwaba (Welcome) in advance of your historic visit to “Black Africa.” I ask for Providence’s guidance and wisdom and the protection and blessings of our ancestors. As you make this historic trip to the continent, I will like to make the following humble requests to you in a form of this open letter.

On behalf of the suffering masses of Africa, I entreat you to tell your fellow G-8 leaders to promote real trade with African countries and to stop their double standards about free trade. Free trade should mean free trade for all members of the international community. If they really are interested in Africa's development, then they should remove all barriers to the free flow of goods from African countries to western markets. The World Bank estimates that dismantling import barriers by rich economies can raise national income in the Less Developed Countries (LDC), by about $100billion.

Urge them to end their sugar-coated hypocrisy in the form of words about how African countries would benefit from more trade while at the same time they impose heavy tariffs on their commodities. So far, the West's rhetoric is all about the virtues of free trade, but its actions are pedantic and mercantilist.

Esteemed President, please tell the respected captains of the ship of "the global economy" that what Africa needs is not mere crumbs from the table of the rich nations, but a massive and comprehensive bail out in the form of an African Marshall Plan. Let Western leaders understand that throwing in a dollar here and there only fuels the corruption frenzy on the continent as politicians and their hirelings scramble to line their pockets with the handouts. Papering over the cracks through piecemeal and band aid solutions will not work.

That an African Marshall Plan is long overdue is an understatement. After all, Africa contributed and continues to contribute in no small way to development of “the shinning cities” of the West thanks to the trilogy of slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism. We don't even have to talk of reparations.

Dear Mr. President, what African countries need is assistance in the field of education and technological know-how not economic handouts, which end up being recycled back to the West. If Western assistance is to have meaningful impact on the lives of African people, to paraphrase the famous Chinese proverb the hungry African people should be helped to learn how to catch fish, in order to feed themselves for their life times rather than be offered fish which will be consumed in a short time.

George Soros, the billionaire financier, contends that the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with blessing of the West, can uplift the poor countries. He advocates that the IMF boost development aid and liquidity in poor countries by issuing $70billion per annum in Special Drawing Rights of its own currency.

Please, dear President, impress upon your fellow world leaders that they must put a freeze on arms sales or supplies to all African regimes, particularly the military ones. They must help launch a campaign to disarm Africa. The campaign must be seen as a moral act—a social contract of sorts—between the peoples of rich countries and the suffering masses of Africa. The guiding philosophy must be: "Africans need bread today for tomorrow's world security." They should put in place an international action plan against arms peddling and supplies to African regimes as was done against drug smuggling. The devastating effect of cocaine and heroin in the inner cities of Western countries pales into nothingness when compared with the destruction wreaked on Angola, Ethiopia, Liberia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Somalia by weapons proliferation aided by Western nations and arms barons.

To be sure, the arms industry offers jobs for hundreds of thousands of citizens in the G-8 countries and stopping the sale of arms to African regimes would mean thousands of lost jobs. However, the radical truth is that unless the arms trade is stopped now, tax payers in your countries would end up sacrificing more in the future to intervene in wars on the continent. For example, in 1993 and 1994 alone, the U.S. spent more than $3bn on relief and peacekeeping in Somalia and Rwanda. This amounts to nearly twice as much as it allocated for development assistance to the entire continent. A stitch in time saves nine.

Please Your Excellency, persuade your colleagues to deny asylum to African leaders who embezzle funds and commit other crimes against their people. Those who have already been offered sanctuary in the West to enjoy their ill-gotten, blood-soaked wealth should be exposed and prosecuted. Also, tell them to prosecute Western citizens and companies who collaborate to defraud the continent.
Esteemed President, please be kind to end all covert Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A) operations to undermine and destroy progressive regimes in Africa as was visited upon Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba and Kwame Nkrumah, first president of Ghana, your port of call on your visit to Sub-Sahara Africa.

Finally, tell your esteemed fellow leaders of the "club of the rich" to support the fledgling African Union. They should desist from torpedoing the African Union as they sought to do with attempts to build a continental African Government earlier on in the past century. A united, prosperous Africa is boon and not a bane to world peace and global prosperity. Africa's 800 million people constitute a huge market, its rich, largely untapped natural and human resources are ingredients to fuel the future global economy. It is not for nothing that it is said that the future belongs to Africa.

I applaud you for standing by and pitching for Africa in the midst of the seeming encircling gloom and the fog of Afro-pessimism that hang over the African continent.

Truly Yours

Charles Quist-Adade, Ghana

Source:Ecoterra, July 3, 2009

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