Lloyd Whitefield, writing in the Zimbabwe Guardian, sharply criticized President Barack Obama for his recent comments on the situation in Africa. In his speech, the president argued that “we must start from the simple premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans.” He also argued the disastrous events in Zimbabwe which have resulted in a wrecked economy and two million refugees in South Africa, can not be blamed on past Western imperialism. “Africans are responsible for Africans.” Whitefield argues Obama is using an argument that he rejects when applied to the lives of African Americans in the United States. The president supports Affirmative Action programs to make up for past mistakes and does not place all blame on African Americans for any problems they currently confront.
In one sense, President Obama is correct that what has happened in Zimbabwe over the past two decades is the result of blunders on the part of President Mugabe rather than western imperialism. But, on the other hand, the president’s argument is rather “simple” in casting all blame on Africans. When African nations obtained their independence, industry was not controlled by Africans, in most places agriculture was controlled by Europeans as was banking and trade. Few African nations enjoyed the benefits of an Affirmative Action program that has been offered to African Americans. Unfortunately, life is rarely “simple,” it is complex and we expect a more reasoned argument from President Obama on such an enormous problem as life in African nations, plus thirty years.