Obama’s scheduled visit to Ghana provides me with an opportunity to briefly examine the role that domestic U.S. politics plays in American relations with Sub-Saharan Africa. Even in Obama’s skillful hands, Africa remains a prop on which conflicting ideas about American identity get played out. The extent to which Obama’s African-ness benefits him as president is a work in progress. As president he wants to avoid an African quagmire, where good intentions go awry. Yet as an African American, he wants to remind one of his core group of supporters where his “roots” are. In The Guardian of London, I tease out some of these confusing and contradictory pressures on U.S.-African relations. The article, published through Project Syndicate, is part of a longer study I’m doing on Africa and the West.
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