I have been asked a couple of times what Tanzanians think about Obama's impending visit- hazard of the job. Honestly, I haven't got the foggiest. I imagine there are those who are terribly excited, like, say, the entire Ministry of Foreign Affairs along with State House and various political/business creatures who are certain to benefit directly. And then there's the rest of us, who hold a kaleidoscope of opinions.
So, you know, I'm just going to channel some solo opinion here. I do get the whole whoop-de-doo about being 'honored' with a visit from the Leader of the Free(ish) World. Symbolic win? Sure. I don't get why it's a competition to attract the attention of an American president, but since it apparently is, I am not above enjoying the thinly veiled venom of our disappointed 'competitors.' That said: meh.
It's not personal. Barack Obama the human being is intensely appealing, so much so that I keep away from POTUS footage in order not to get dragged into his vortex. Best of all, he's married to Michelle. If I grow up, I want to be Michelle right after I am done being Morgan Freeman (don't ask, it's a long story). But this is the real world and he's the American president and I am one of those Africans who likes to toss the word 'neocolonialism' around:
"Supposedly between China and America we have been honored with diplomatic and economic attention. Ah, sure. Camaraderie, is it? We the plebeians are still asking ourselves and each other what was the exact nature of those very many contracts that we signed with China. Now there's going to be a delegation of hundreds of businessmen in the Obama entourage looking to explore opportunities in Tanzania. There is something disconcerting about being considered a sweet little morsel by America on the planet on the one hand, and China on the other."
Seemed mean-spirited to admit that at the moment I am far more preoccupied with issues of police brutality, internal security and civil rights, inflation and corruption and state incompetence than I am with presidents. And I don't think I am the only one. Gas, Africom, the Millenium Challenge Corporation, businessmen- what are these in the face of our current situation? Yes, Barack Obama is coming to Tanzania. If he could bring along plane-load of respect for civil rights and inject it directly into my government's veins I would be happier. But I understand POTUS has a few problems of his own respecting the freedoms of Americans- like, say, freedom from state surveillance? *shrug.*