Obama was sworn in for a second term on January 20, 2013; after successfully dispatching the then Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. Africa followed his reelection keenly and celebrated his political success.
The White House announced in July that the President was heading to Africa for a tour of the continent. Three sub-Saharan African countries were going to be beneficiaries of the visit – Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.
Senegal – Dakar between June 26 – 28, 2013
Obama and Michelle landed in Senegal on June 26. The following day he met with President Macky Sall for the usual bilateral and diplomatic talks. He went on to meet with regional judicial leaders.
Mandela demonstrated that action and ideas are not enough. No matter how right, they must be chiseled into law and institutions. He was practical, testing his beliefs against the hard surface of circumstance and history. On core principles he was unyielding.
On her part, Michelle and Mrs. Sall spoke at All Girls Middle School. Obama and Michelle also visited the Maison des Esclaves and had a meeting at Goree Institute. Met with farmers and agriculture sector workers to discuss food security. He departed on July 28.
South Africa – June 28 – July 1, 2013
From Dakar, the Obamas arrived in the ‘Rainbow land’ – South Africa. This was by far his most elaborate visit. It saw him visit Johannesburg, Soweto, Pretoria and Cape Town over the four day period.
The South African visit lasted between June 28 – July 1. As part of his itinerary, Obama met President Jacob Zuma for talks around development, peace and security and democracy in Africa.
He attended a town hall meeting at Johannesburg University’s Soweto Campus. Obama also met with the then African Union (AU) Commission chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for talks on diplomatic relations between the US and the AU.
Next stop was to Cape town, where he visited Robben Island and met with family members of Mandela – who at the time was reportedly very sick, he also visited Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation youth center and spoke at the University of Cape Town.
Tanzania – Dar es Salaam between July 1 – 2, 2013
This was the last stop on his African tour. He met then President Jakaya Kikwete, attended roundtable meeting with Africa-America business leaders.
Michelle met Salma Kikwete and together they visited the memorial of 1998 embassy bombings. Obama later joined George and Laura Bush to also pay their respects at the embassy memorial. He also helped commission the Ubungo power plant. He left Tanzania on July 2.
South Africa, Johannesburg, Pretoria – December 9 – 11, 2013Five months after leaving South Africa, Obama and Michelle were on their way back. South Africa, Africa and the world had its biggest funeral in a long while. The father of the nation and a global citizen passed away. Nelson Mandela died.
The funeral service for Nelson Mandela at the FNB stadium pooled an enviable number of Presidents and government leaders. Obama and Michelle were joined by George Bush and Hillary Clinton on the trip.
They were received in South Africa by former presidents, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Obama was one of the speakers at the event, at his oratory best; he delivered a eulogy that described Madiba as, a man who ‘‘understood the ties that bind the human spirit.’‘
Kenya – Nairobi between July 24 – 26, 2015
The visit to South Africa to mourn Mandela was big but the biggest was yet to come. And that was when it was announced that Obama was a President heading to his fatherland, Kenya.
It was historic in part because he became the first US president to visit the East African country, he was met by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his half-sister Auma at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
He had dinner with paternal family at his hotel in the capital Nairobi. Obama spoke at United Nations (UN) offices in Nairobi before visiting an innovation fair on ‘Power Africa’ initiative. He also laid a wreath in memory of 1998 embassy bombing.
In his later meeting with Uhuru Kenyatta, they discussed bilateral issues especially bothering on security with respect to al Shabaab. Obama addressed Kenyans at Safaricom indoor Arena where he hit on corruption, terrorism and inequality.
A meeting with civil society groups at Nairobi University and a tour of the Nairobi National Park rounded off his visit. His next stop was next door Ethiopia.
Ethiopia – Historic speech in front of the AU
Obama in Ethiopia, met the government for bilateral talks before he visited the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, where he addressed the Union. He became the first US president to do so.
He pulled a few punches with tough talk like ‘no one should be president for life.’
Join us for the next installment of Obama & Africa series, in part four we present photos of Obama receiving African leaders at the White House.
Shaban Abdur Rahman Alfa
Africanews, web journalist
Congo, Pointe Noire