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    This weblog is based on DIBUSSI TANDE's personal views on people, places, issues and events in Cameroon, Africa and the world - Citizen Journalism at its finest!

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« A Very Long Layover - Nightmare at the Douala International Airport | Main | Bref Sejour »

November 01, 2008

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Samira Edi

Hi Mola,
I'll like to chirp in a little with regards to two issues that you raised. The first issue is about the impact of the next US president’s administrative policies on Africa . The second is about the smoothness, transparency and fairness in ideal elections like in the US.

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I’ve read the disenchanted tirade of Africans when it comes to the aspirations and expectations of a US presidential candidates' policies towards Africa . Unfortunately, most are so cynical. Just like their prognostications were flawed with dubious racial premises of the electoral outcome, right from the primaries; they will equally be mistaken about how impactful the next president’s agenda will be on Africa . I have a gut feeling this time, it will be very positive.

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The world hungers for, and is at the cusp of new moral leadership, and the two candidates represent vast polarities for which Africa and the world will be better off or worse. And who but Obama is the embodiment of Bush's flipside of unity, intellect, diplomacy and international cooperation necessary to permeate the firewalls of divisions across the global spectrum—divisions that have been exploited and leveraged by the corrupt, extremist and the evil forces? We cannot underestimate Obama's power to inspire and convince those African despots to change from their bad ways. There are words that Obama constantly uses; "I'll usher in a new era of responsibility"

----------------------------------------From leadership, economic systems, to global warming, he has the ability to tap from the collective global affinity of working and solving great issues. And if you consider the fact that 226 countries have US military troops, 63 of which host American bases, while only 46 countries in the world have no US military presence—amongst which is Cameroon. With that as a reference, we may answer the questions in the debate about what each of the candidate’s foreign priorities will be.

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Africans may not be casting votes during this US election, but we shall feel its consequences just like the rest of mankind. Firstly, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Cameroon ’s peculiar problems could never be addressed in isolation to continent Africa, when it comes to a US candidate’s African perspectives. There has been a recalibration or a re-definition of what is uniquely African problem with the global economic crises. We are a part of a global community and what happens there equally impacts the US. And when Senator Obama mentions the need to help those countries who are willing to help themselves, as an entity of this global village, Cameroon should seize the moment and join the concourse, weaving its own micro divisions into the larger global aspirations for the better. I will like to refer any doubters to this:

Barack Obama’s Speech on Race as a reminder of his core values and global approach.

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McCain or Not Clinton or any other candidate could’ve made that speech.

On Africa , I hold very high hopes with an Obama administration; unlike John McCain—as a matter of fact, I don’t think the latter and his lady mate ever heard of the place. Anyway, it is really unfair to undermine the polarities in the foreign policy priorities and personal commitment to the continent, between the two candidates, simply because they could be lumped under the awning of American hegemony. Depending on whether it is a Democrat or a Republican government, you bet there will be a massive shift on military, democratic, economic and educational priorities on the continent.

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As much as the US President is the leader of the free world, it is unrealistic for solicitous Africans to expect a candidate on the campaign stumps to vocalize his views to American voters about what his specific plans for continent Africa will be. Israel on the other hand, has a closer bond with the US and it is a legitimate issue for a US presidential candidate to give voice to his position about the Gordian knot that is the Middle East Crisis— because that regional instability directly poses a national security threat to the US . Obama has said what he will do to help Africa in his interviews on Larry King, Tavis Smiley, Charlie Rose shows, and even on the View.

--------------------------------------------A poignant issue with Obama is that he has always stated even on his stumps, that he wants to build an America which is all-inclusive; where there is fairness and tolerance for the immigrant and those who are different to us. That is a powerful signal against the xenophobes in America —and a risky political position at a time when the specter of an immigrant raises unnecessary questions about a candidate’s patriotism. He could easily be tied to all sorts of negative alien presence and dragged down as a dangerous element to the country’s security. At the risk of being subjected to visceral labels, a candidate who expresses any whiff of sympathy for the immigrant opens himself up to extremist hostility.

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Let me add this point separately, which nobody pays attention to. Obama's presidency will actually bring America to take its share of responsibility with regards to Climate change issues, of which the third world bears the brunt with a less than zero sum game; of the excesses of the developed world. Cameroon is a typical example. I remember Buea when it was the London of Cameroon, the Mt Cameroon standing majestically peaked with ice and lush vegetation and verdant scenery. The temperature was so cool, we had thick pullovers over our school uniforms going to school. Contrast this with now. Even when we moved to Bamenda, it was a similar cool climate. But not now.

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Obama bravery narrates his personal story as an exemplar—and a welcoming model to show a more accepting America . This is indicative of what he will also do for Africa . When he says “he is a messenger who can help heal the rifts between America and the rest of the world,” Africa is not excluded from that demographic. He has often compared his community work with the inner-city kids from deprived backgrounds with the way Africans have been left on the sides. I’ll recommend his interview with Tavis Smiley which is available on Youtube.

--------------------------------------------On specifics, Senator Barack Obama has variously laid out his vision for Africa—by mentioning his ardent wish to help the democratic advancements, more sustainable partnership between Africa and the US , fighting corruption, fairer trade agreements and to address the crippling effects of a host of diseases on the continent. As far back as four years ago, his interview with Charlie Rose - BARACK OBAMA gives a definite pointer to how Obama will do business with Africa. I’ve heard him state how he will reach out to those African countries that are willing to fight corruption in their countries, and promote democracy, to be helped, not only with American money, but with resources in technology, logistics, tools, expertise and medicine. When he won his landslide senatorial race and then published his second bestseller—The Audacity of Hope, he was interviewed by Mr. Rose on his program which features America ’s great thinkers—the nightly PBS program. I don’t see any other occasion when a US candidate will strategize about policies to Africa, to a US audience who are waiting to hear about what he will do for them, especially now!

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In your last paragraph, you made a comparison between the election processes of Cameroon and the US.

["Here is a system, (unlike the Cameroonian situation) where the civil service stays above the fray during elections, where the military keeps its distance, where the rules and regulations severely reduce the ability of those in power to use or divert state resources to promote the candidate(s) of their choice"]

--------------------------------------------Mola, America is not at all a model template for the benefits of democratic values, nor are their elections free or fair. Their elections represent the most profligate system of institutionalized corruption in the Western world. With gerrymandering and electoral colleges alone, that deliberately creates an uneven field for the GOP. America has had 44 presidents; only 12 of which have been Democrats. A Democrat like Barack Obama has put a spanner in their works, by encroaching on their turf from the foundations of their blockade. He refuses to play on their terms, on their own turf, and by anticipating their every move four paces ahead, like a chess maestro to succeed, and defeat the medieval-type of Rovian dirty politics.

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Members of the American civil service are not exempt from the fray in US elections—that is why they come out and endorse their candidates. From the police, the Army and even the sheriffs do not stay above the fray. I’ve seen a video of a trooper in uniform, during a McKKKain rally, baying and lynch mobbing against Barack Obama. But those are just juvenile distractions. There is worse. Never underestimate the filthy phalanges of FOX News to reach the unreasonable, the unintelligent and the racist.

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The Republicans have maintained a stranglehold on power far longer than the Democrats because of complex system of distateful politics, institutionalized electoral rigging, racism and sheer corruption. They exploit the loopholes of injustices, ignorance and use swift boating, filibustering, gerrymandering, disingenuous flummery, voter suppression, voter purging, intimidation, dirty tricks to out maneuver their opponents in an elaborate massive vote rigging scheme, and smears that paint the others bad. We have heard the derisive screeching of guilt by association and “palling around with terrorists” in this particular election from the likes of racist Klan folks like John McKKKain, Sarah aPalin, Ann Coulter, Ben Stein, Michelle Malkin, Bill Kristol, dough head Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, Sean insHannity, Bill O’Reilly, Geraldine Ferraro, Michelle Buchmann and the pack of hyenas and dimwitted minions like Joe the Skinhead GOP—they hack into Obama’s greatest strengths—his humane, empathy, tolerance to distort his approach, and accuse him of these as a weakness and proof of closeness to shadowy characters. More Racist Comments On Stage at McCain Rally

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Every one of these electoral tricks has been tried out in these elections. That is how Bush stole the elections twice. While the GOP are always been very vocal to cry “Wolf” it is they that have a list of disgraced officials who have actually been convicted of felonies of vote rigging. Allen Rayond of the GOP National Committee. went to jail f for jamming the phone lines which effectively blocked Democratic campaign call ads in Florida and New Hampshire cutting off communication to their Democratic voters. And you know how important advertising is to US elections! Charles McGee, James Tobin went to Jail. A nd a telemarketing firm was fined the for dirty campaign tricks. This year, they’ve tried tricks like foreclosure to disenfranchise voters in Michigan . They’ve spelt Obama’s name like Osama. They’ve circulated flyers telling Democrats to got to the polling stations on Wednesday. How could anyone with a passing familiarity with American politics claim that it is a true representation of transparency and accountability and fairness!!

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The difference between what happens with democratic dictatorships like in Cameroon , Zimbabwe and Nigeria is only represented in the size of the purse used to smear. Bush won twice by fraud, the world knows that. But let me just add a compilation of the dirty tricks the GOP have used as a long-standing tradition that has served them well, and cheated their opponents… Meanwhile, I hope to die today and wake up on Wednesday. I am like a coiled spring, I’m afraid I’ll explode!

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