Emer Beamer on Fri, 18 Jul 2003 21:56:16 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-nl] African journalist over Bush bezoek aan Africa

Een engelstalig article van Kenyan journalist David Makali over de 
recentelijk bezoek van Bush aan Afrika,
mischien interessant voor mensen te horen hoe zijn bezoek in Afrika 
ervaren is.
sorry dat het niet  Nederlands is

Biiterness in Bush's wake - david makali - beyond politics
In a rather absurd way, the recent visit to Africa by US President 
George Bush lived up to the billing. Now back in Washington DC, it is 
doubtful if Mr Bush is more enlightened about the continent than before 
his sojourn.

The man hardly spent time on the African soil and, going by African 
wisdom – as enunciated by my colleague Charles Onyango-Obbo – his tour 
cannot qualify to be called a visit. An African visit is incomplete 
without sampling the hospitality of a special meal prepared by your 
host. Any excuses are condescending and contemptuous.
Now it is not in the interest of American presidents to attend to such 
folksy protocols. Bush was here for our needs and to pity us? Yet, from 
Senegal to Uganda, from South Africa to Nigeria, his visit seems to 
have provoked such anti-American outrage that should jolt Washington 
into some serious soul-searching.

Thanks to the Internet, I have been receiving correspondence on my list 
serve about how the Big Man's tour went in the places he passed. Let us 
take a brief stock. 
You have probably read of how our neighbours, Uganda, spent nearly 
Sh250 million to prepare for a four-hour Bush stopover at Entebbe 
airport. A huge contingent of his Secret Service had been deployed to 
the country to literally pave the way for the visit, taking over the 
airport and clearing the area of humanity and vegetation in advance. 

On the day he hopped in, last Saturday, regular flights to the Entebbe 
airport were either rescheduled or rerouted to elsewhere. His entourage 
of four planeloads annexed the airport and its surroundings. Not even 
local journalists were allowed near the man.
President Bush was dashed to a nearby home for children infected with 
Aids and stared at them for the duration of a short call to express his 
solidarity and encounter the Aids. Then he was back to the airport and 
shoo to Nigeria where they say he was a guest of President Olusegun 
Obasanjo and his family! The Ugandan opposition was left waxing about 
the whole episode.  Demonstrations in Kampala against the visit were 
nipped in the bud by ample security. What did they expect when the 
cowboy from Texas comes to town? He takes over your streets and 
displaces nature.

But woe befell the Senegalese, one of the lucky few countries to be 
visited by President Bush. The following account by a West African 
woman simply gave me goose pimples.
"Dearest friends," she wrote, "as you probably know, this week George 
Bush is visiting Africa. Starting with Senegal, he arrived this morning 
at 7.20 and left at 1.30 pm. This visit has been such an ordeal that a 
petition is being circulated for this Tuesday, July 8, to be named 
Dependency Day." 

She goes on to narrate the horrendous experience in anecdotes: "More 
than 1,500 persons were arrested and put in jail on Thursday and 
Monday. Hopefully they will be released now that the Big Man is gone. 
US Army's planes are flying day and night over Dakar. The noise they 
make is so loud that one hardly sleeps at night. 
"[There were] about 700 security people from the US, with their dogs 
and their cars. Senegalese security forces were not allowed to come 
near the US President. All trees in places where Mr Bush will pass have 
been cut. Some of them have more than 100 years.
"All roads going downtown (where hospitals, businesses, schools are 
located) were closed from Monday night to Tuesday at 3 pm. This means 
that we could not go to our offices or schools. Sick people were also 
obliged to stay at home. National exams for high schools that started 
on Monday [were] postponed until Wednesday."

There are moments when we imagine that we are independent until Uncle 
Sam steps on our sovereignty. If Codou is to be believed, Mr Bush's 
visit to Senegal rekindled melancholic memories of slavery indeed.

Although the United States is trying hard to portray itself as a caring 
state, its unilateralism and arrogant actions continue to communicate a 
different message altogether. The righteous tone of Bush statements is 
prompting questions about America's unbridled quest to dominate the 
In Mr Bush's garb, you will find it implied that the United States is 
God's anointed nation to save the world and he, the chosen instrument 
of that misplaced mission. Bush's statements make it improbable that 
you can stop America without first halting the man's search for 
Bush intends to achieve greatness by making Americans and the rest of 
the world feel more vulnerable than they are really, while he passes 
off as the arch-guardian. Considering the after-taste left in the trail 
of his visits, you will agree that we are still the better off without 
his blessings or protection. 
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