Barack Obama tells Africa to stop blaming colonialism for problems
President Barack Obama has told African leaders it is time to stop blaming colonialism and "Western oppression" for the continent's manifold problems.
By Alex Spillius in Washington
09 Jul 2009
Ahead of a visit to Ghana at the weekend, he said: "Ultimately, I'm a big believer that Africans are responsible for Africa.
"I think part of what's hampered advancement in Africa is that for many years we've made excuses about corruption or poor governance, that this was somehow the consequence of neo-colonialism, or the West has been oppressive, or racism – I'm not a big – I'm not a believer in excuses.
Mr Obama, the son of a Kenyan, added: "I'd say I'm probably as knowledgeable about African history as anybody who's occupied my office. And I can give you chapter and verse on why the colonial maps that were drawn helped to spur on conflict, and the terms of trade that were uneven emerging out of colonialism.
"And yet the fact is we're in 2009," continued the US president. "The West and the United States has not been responsible for what's happened to Zimbabwe's economy over the last 15 or 20 years.
"It hasn't been responsible for some of the disastrous policies that we've seen elsewhere in Africa. And I think that it's very important for African leadership to take responsibility and be held accountable."
Mr Obama told AllAfrica.com that he chose Ghana for his first trip to the continent as president to highlight the country's development as a democracy.
Providing glimpses of a speech to be delivered in Accra on Saturday, he explained: "Ghana has now undergone a couple of successful elections in which power was transferred peacefully, even a very close election."
Mr Obama made it clear that Kenya's ongoing instability had ruled out his father's homeland as an initial destination, despite the euphoria it would have produced.