OPINION / SPEECHES

AN AVALANCHE OF PROTESTS AWAITS OBAMA IN SOUTH AFRICA BY KWAME BIKO

Date Posted: June 19, 2013

By KWAME BIKO

Email: info@uhuruspirit.org




Barack Hussein Obama, America’s first Black President will from 26 June to 3 July undertake his so-called Africa Tour. This is not just an ordinary tour because Africa is the continent of Obama’s late father - Barack Hussein Obama Sr. So Obama comes as a “great friend of Africa”, whether he merits that title or not.

To me, this is Obama’s first visit to Africa since he became the President of United States. I don’t agree that his brief stop-over in Ghana in 2009, on his way back to America, after his speech to the Muslim World in Egypt, was the first Obama’s visit to Africa as American President. Clearly, that event in Ghana was a mere acknowledgement of Africa’s support for Obama in 2008.

This time around, he will be visiting three African countries: Tanzania, Senegal and South Africa. He won’t visit Kenya – his father’s country – as according to Obama, the country does not deserve to receive him.

However, the fact that Obama won’t be visiting Kenya will not pose any problem. After-all, countries in Africa usually compete for this kind of visit. Moreover, wherever he goes during his tour, he won’t be treated just as an American President, but also as a son of the soil. In every country, he will be received with some exaggerated fanfare and celebration, that is, under a heavy security protection.

Therefore, when Obama arrives in South Africa, there will be a Zulu dance group to perform for him. And more significantly, there will be some “Rainbow Nation Band” on hand to choreographically show him and his “respected” entourage how “unique” South Africa is. Also, some “ordinary” people will be chosen to come out with their Vuvuzelas and celebrate the arrival of President Barack Obama.

But above the din of the foregoing practiced performances will be the roar of millions of conscious world citizens in South Africa, who are aware of America’s role in many of the problems that ravage our world. These people will be out in the streets and in their numbers to denounce those countries, like America, that cause confusion and cheat others in the comity of nations. Thus, an avalanche of protests awaits Obama in South Africa.

While many groups are involved in planned anti-Obama protests in Cape Town area, it has emerged that another group in Johannesburg area made up of other progressive bodies is also planning to protest against the visit.

The group, which includes the South African Communist Party (SACP), Young Communist League of South Africa (YCL), South African Students Congress (SASCO), Muslim Students Association(MSA), National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union(NEHAWU), Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Friend of Cuba Society (FOCUS), Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in South Africa (BDS South African), and the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), in a press release today completely rejected Obama’s planned visit to South Africa: “Progressive forces in South Africa have consistently been raising these issues and many others regarding the role of the USA in the global community. We categorically make it known, that the visit of the USA President to South Africa is an unwelcome visit that will be protested, picketed and resisted by all justice and peace-loving peoples of this country. Friendship with South Africa must be based on values of justice, freedom and equality and these the USA has offended, undermined and ridiculed through its actions in the global front,” they said in their statement.

They base their rejection of Obama and America on “USA's arrogant, selfish and oppressive foreign policies, [bad] treatment of workers and [America’s] international trade relations that are rooted in war mongering, neo-liberal super-exploitation, colonial racism and the disregard and destruction of the environment.”

In their litany of America’s crimes against humanity, the group accused the US of being “deeply implicated in oppression of the people of Western Sahara.” They are angered by what they call “a continuing baseless embargo” against Cuba and, in the same vein, pointed at America’s refusal to release the five Cuban nationals who are unjustly being held in America despite an international campaign that includes Nobel Laureates like Wole Soyinka , Desmond Tutu, Nadine Gordimer, Rigoberta Menchú, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, José Saramago, and Günter Grass.

They further stated that the “criminal occupation of Palestine” by Israel would not have been possible if not for “USA’s financial and political support for” for Israel. While slamming America for standing against progress, the group recalled how the U.S. used “its veto power to defend Apartheid South Africa.”

They equally accuse the United States of being “one of the largest contributors to global warming.”

The group will march from the Union Building to the United States of America Embassy in Pretoria on Friday, 28 June, 2013. Time: 10h00.

There is also a demonstration against the decision of the University of Johannesburg to award President Barack Obama an honorary doctorate degree. This revolutionary action will happen on Saturday, 22 June, 2013. Time: 11am; Venue: Kingsway Road.

Surely, with these and other up-coming plans, an avalanche of protests awaits Obama in South Africa.

For more information on the protests, contact:

Lucian Segami (NEHAWU): 079 522 0098

Mbuyiseni (BDS-SA): 073 133 3012

Richard Mamabolo (YCLSA): 079 670 0274



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