It’s Wednesday, so it must be Nigeria. Hillary Clinton is still in Africa. (Seriously, who decided it would be a great idea to visit seven countries in 11 days?)
The trip was supposed to be about good governance, democracy and trade. But judging by some of the coverage so far it’s instead been about Hillary’s hair, a weird marriage proposal, and why you really shouldn’t ask the US Secretary of State what her husband thinks.
Maybe she’s lucky that no-one’s paying attention to the serious stuff, because little of it seems to have gone well. In Kenya, her attempts to threaten and cajole the leaders of the “government of impunity” to clean up their act fell on deaf ears. Even Raila Odinga, a man who owes much of his success in becoming Prime Minister to the “interference” of western diplomats, felt the urge to warn Hillary that Kenyans “don’t need lectures on how to govern ourselves”.
Her meeting with Somalia’s president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, appears to have given fresh ammunition (of the verbal kind) to his opponents, while the fresh ammunition (of the lethal kind) that the US gave to Sharif’s government is rumoured to have made it’s way to Al Shabaab.
Angola’s autocratic and corrupt regime got the positive publicity of a Hillary visit and in return had to give only a vague promise to hold elections of some sort at some time in the future, probably.
The Bill incident aside, her trip to Congo mainly focused on combating sexual violence. Texas in Africa laid out a few ideas for proper reform here although the chances of 100,000 peacekeepers being sent anywhere, let alone Congo, are almost nil. The package Clinton announced yesterday included training for doctors and police officers, as well as an offer of camcorders to help document evidence. Wronging Rights points out some of the absurdities, while Shashank thinks it might work. Either way, none of this is going to make a radical difference.
So now it’s Nigeria,where according to Jeff Gettleman in the New York Times, Clinton’s message on corruption was “muted”:
“We strongly support and encourage the government of Nigeria’s efforts to increase transparency, reduce corruption,”
Tomorrow it’s Liberia where Clinton will shower praise on Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf while probably ignoring the ongoing corruption and the recent truth and reconciliation report, and finally onto Cape Verde where… Frankly, God knows. Cape Verde? Does anyone even know where that is?
Which is probably a question running through the minds of many an African leader who hasn’t been blessed by a Hillary visit. Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, in particular, must be wondering why they didn’t get the chance to dance awkwardly with the US secretary of state.