One of the hottest pop songs on Ghanaian radio is this tune by an artist called Black Rasta –
ACCRA (AFP) — Ghanaians sporting Barack Obama hats and T-shirts and holding portraits of the US president danced through the streets of the capital Accra early Friday in anticipation of his on a landmark visit to the country.
Obama was due to arrive in Ghana late Friday on his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa since being elected president.
Despite tight security which saw some 10,000 police deployed across the seaside capital, residents drummed and gyrated in the streets, with many dancing to a song about Obama, composed by a Ghanaian radio presenter known as Black Rasta.
Street vendors did brisk trade in Obama memorabilia from keyrings and coffee mugs to huge colourful umbrellas with Obama and President John Atta-Mills’ portraits emblazoned on them.
From as early as 8 am (0800 GMT), police blocked off some of the major roads including the airport road, from ordinary motorists.
During his 24-hour visit, Obama and his wife Michelle — a descendent of African slaves — were due to tour Cape Coast Castle, one of Africa’s biggest former slave trading posts.
Authorities in Cape Coast, a town some 160 kilometres (100 miles) west of Accra, even banned all funerals this weekend on account of Obama’s visit.
While there is a bit of ruffled feathers, particularly among Nigerians that Obama chose Ghana over Nigeria – the visit is being seen as a homecoming to the native continent by a Native Son. President Obama’s message of responsibility also is ringing true to the ears of many Africans. This piece from AllAfrica.com by Matthew Hassan Kukah illustrates some of that thinking –
I believe that in this visit, President Obama will restate America’s commitment to seeking collaborators around the world in the search for global peace and an end to world terrorism. I expect that President Obama will politely but firmly speak directly to the leaders of Africa, calling for an end to corruption and the need for an equitable distribution and allocation of the continent’s resources. He will call for an end to violence and the need for Africans to hold their leaders accountable and responsible. These may be nice sound bites. The real challenge is that as he may realize, Africans have heard all this before. What they are yet to see is a clear signal from the US and the international community that they are truly committed to helping Africa. For, to do this, they must be ready to expose their multinational corporations and other corporate crooks (e.g. Halliburton), the sponsors of strife and violence in Africa in the course of the exploitation of mineral resources and the need to energise and support civil society groups. I hope he will note the ubiquity of religion but appeal to the leaders to find a more muscular role for religion and to apply the fine principles of their faiths towards the attainment of the common good.
Whatever moral exhortations President Obama may make, African leaders must have the courage to admit and take full responsibility for the ruination of the continent. They must genuinely admit that effective collaboration entails their being held accountable to their international obligations. They must sign on to the inviolability of the democratic quest, the sanctity and dignity of the individuals, their rights to vote for or against their leaders. Young Africans who look up to President Obama must learn to imbibe hard work and shun violence, reject being conscripted into death squads in the name of religion and embrace the values of democracy.