What people in Senegal want from the United States | 

President Obama’s first stop on his Africa tour is Senegal. We can’t say for sure what the President hopes to gain out of the visit. What about people in Senegal? GlobalPost sat down with a group of young men in advance of Obama’s trip to share some tea and find out what they think.

Give the short video a watch:

What will Obama actually do in his week traveling around Africa? | 

President Barack Obama finishes an address following a tour with his family of Cape Coast Castle in Ghana.
President Barack Obama finishes an address following a tour with his family of Cape Coast Castle in Ghana.

Now that the cost concerns about President Obama’s trip to sub-Saharan Africa are long forgotten, it is time for everyone to weigh in about the trip itself. So why is the President going to visit sub-Saharan Africa and what will he do for the next week?

Journalist Geoffrey York says that the trip is in response to the continuing growth of influence by China on the continent, in a column for the Globe and Mail. Aside from a 24-hour spell in Ghana, Obama has stayed away from sub-Saharan Africa since taking the office of President in 2009. York also highlights the fact that everyone is not cheering Obama’s visit.

[W]hile Mr. Obama is keen to revive the relationship, the response among many Africans has been lukewarm. Even though Mr. Obama is the most powerful leader to visit South Africa over the past decade, there is little excitement on the eve of his arrival here. “The build-up is strangely muted,” said a South African newspaper, the Mail and Guardian. “We are hearing very little from our own government about the agenda for the visit.”

South Africa’s international relations department has not yet even held a press conference to discuss the visit, twice postponing a planned briefing. President Jacob Zuma mentioned the visit only briefly on Monday, calling it a “significant” event but giving few details.

Within the ruling African National Congress, there has always been a vocal anti-American element, resentful of U.S. policy in the Middle East, including the Pentagon’s participation in air strikes against Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The ANC’s youth league, reacting to Mr. Obama’s planned visit, attacked his “broken promises” and “imperialism.”

The trip is less about Obama’s Kenyan heritage and more about American leadership, says Tolu Ogunlesi in the Guardian who also alludes to China’s increasing presence. He argues that Bush set the bar pretty high for engagement with Africa through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the President’s Emergency Play for AIDS Relief  (PEPFAR). Continue reading

From Davos to Dakar: World Social Forum underway | 

The World Social Forum, created as a counterpoint to the World Economic Forum in Davos, is underway this week in Dakar, Senegal.

The news coverage of the WSF, as compared to the WEF, is a bit sparse.

The WSF organization (or whatever it is … since it says on its web site it’s not actually an organization but rather a de-centralized movement or gathering) grew out of the anti-globalization sentiments that led to the World Trade Organization (WTO) riots in Seattle in 1999. Continue reading