I have a new post up at the African Loft: Obama’s Africa Policy: Does he have one? His Africa policy was described at the National Press Club in September by  Witney W. Schneidman, who served as deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs in the Clinton administration.

He outlined three objectives for the continent:

  • One is to accelerate Africa’s integration into the global economy.
  • A second is to enhance the peace and security of African states.
  • And a third is to strengthen relationships with those governments, institutions and civil society organizations committed to deepening democracy, accountability and reducing poverty in Africa.

There is more discussion of these objectives and what they mean in the article.  Most positive were these lines:

the days of external powers on their own deciding what is best for Africa needs to come to an end, once and for all.

There is a lot more there.  Click over to the African Loft and read the whole story.

Niger Delta oil pollution

Niger Delta oil pollution, photo by Ed Kashi

The African Loft has a two part interview with Wole Soyinka and Ed Kashi posted. Click over to the African Loft and watch Nigeria: Wole Soyinka and Ed Kashi on Niger Delta.
You can click on parts 1 and 2.

Kashi just published a book of photos taken in the Delta, Curse of the Black Gold. I ordered a copy and it is an extraordinary collection of photographs accompanied by lots of history and current information. Ed Kashi’s photos are also on display this summer in Rochester New York at the George Eastman House. One thing that struck me going through the book is that the Niger Delta should be one of the most beautiful regions of the world, lush and rich. It has been devastatingly polluted, neglected, and degraded by the oil business and the Nigerian government.

From Artdaily on Kashi’s book:

Even without Kashi’s powerful photographs, O’Neill’s words evoke images of despair: “Villages and towns cling to the banks, little more than heaps of mud-walled huts and rusty shacks. Groups of hungry, half-naked children and sullen, idle adults wander dirt paths. There is no electricity, no clean water, no medicine, no schools. Fishing nets hang dry; dugout canoes sit unused on muddy banks. Decades of oil spills, acid rain from gas flares, and the stripping away of mangroves for pipelines have killed off fish. Nigeria has been subverted by the very thing that gave it promise—oil.”

Newly enlisted members of the Armed Forces of Liberia May 23, 2008

Newly enlisted members of the Armed Forces of Liberia May 23, 2008

MONROVIA, Liberia – Command Sergeant Major Mark Ripka assists with the in-processing of nearly 500 newly enlisted members of the Armed Forces of Liberia May 23, 2008, following their graduation ceremony from the Advanced Individual Training Course, where Ripka was a guest speaker. Ripka is the senior enlisted member for U.S. Africa Command. The United States partnered with the Liberian government to administer the training which was designed to equip new soldiers and officers with the military skills and techniques necessary for their future army assignments.(Photo by Lieutenant Colonel Terry VandenDolder, U.S. Africa Command)

I have a new article up at the African Loft. AFRICOM: Military Spending Instead of Development Aid? Follow the money. Click on over to read it.