Chris BishopBy Chris Bishop|January 19, 2021|4 Minutes|In Editor's Desk

Editor’s Desk

Wake up Joe!

I am wondering how the United States will look Africa in the eye in the future and preach democracy. It is going to be hard in this crazy world we are living in where the world’s biggest power appears to be clinging onto democracy for dear life.

For decades, the United States has lectured nations the length and breadth of the African continent about democracy, keeping soldiers in the barracks plus respect for elections and human rights. Often aid has been withheld over these issues in the hope of guiding errant African nations on the path of righteousness.

More than once I have heard African politicians say: “We should forget about hierarchy; we should be like the United States where anyone can become president.”

Yet, what happened when “anyone” – a non-career politician – did become president of the United States? The climax of a dismal and arrogant reign was a torch wielding mob invading Capitol Hill – the sacred heart of a republic born of an anti-colonial struggle akin to many in Africa – where they treated it like dirt. What must have been going through the minds of the Africans from Bujumbura to Blantyre watching those pictures?

Ugly protestors loose in the hallowed halls of power in Washington. The nature of the invasion was even more repulsive – out from the gutter crawled right wing extremists and thugs who think the idea that people can vote for a better future doesn’t matter. The founding fathers of the United States who spoke of life and liberty must have been turning in their graves.

Worse still, they were egged on by the disgruntled incumbent President Donald Trump who was sore about being chucked out by the voters. Maybe just “anyone” shouldn’t be president of the United States.

As for keeping the army in the barracks, it is a supreme irony that the unrest means there will be as many soldiers on the streets of Washington as people when new president Joe Biden is sworn in.

Biden has a huge job on his hands, not only to shore up the battered international reputation of the United States as well as bringing harmony, where once there was hate, back at home.

International relations experts believe Biden will maintain a cold shoulder towards China on the trade front and likely also to stand strong on counterterrorism in Africa. The United States has 6,000 troops stationed in a dozen countries in Africa.

Overall Biden will have to take Africa a lot more seriously than his predecessor – let’s face it, the last president didn’t give a stuff – and bring real investment to bear in the continent. China has long seen the light in Africa and poured in investment from north to south. The idea of the United States merely keeping “skin in the game” by tossing a few investments Africa’s way is outdated.

What has Africa got to offer? Plenty! Vast resources, high returns, an army of entrepreneurs bristling with ideas and a new free trade area, born on January 1, that promises a single market of more than a billion people.

Over to you Joe or should I say Mr President: maybe it is time to rebuild reputations when it comes to the United States; maybe when it comes to Africa it is time to wake up.