I get the three-day White House conference hosting leaders from all over Africa. China is building lots of ties to the continent, and we’ve got to get in there too. I can’t imagine it’s a huge business bonanza – though it can’t hurt, probably – but there are lots of national security reasons why we need to have an influence in Africa.
Anyway, a prosperous Africa is good for Africa and good for the United States.
What I don’t get is why President Obama needed to stage a sumptuous, red-carpet banquet for so many corrupt African satraps, some of whom run among the most repressive governments in the world.
Sixteen of the honored leaders represented at what was basically a State Dinner in their honor Tuesday evening are listed by Freedom House as lording over “not free” societies.
Among these was, as announced by the White House, “His Excellency Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea.” According to Forbes:
Equatorial Guinea is one of the continent’s largest producers of oil and has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, but this doesn’t necessarily translate into prosperity for its people. The country ranks very poorly in the United Nations human development index; the vast majority of Equatorial Guineans hardly have access to clean drinking water.
The country also has one of the world’s highest under-5 mortality rates: about 20% of its children die before the age of five. Many of the remaining 80% of the children don’t have access to quality educational and healthcare facilities.
Meanwhile, the first son of the president, Teodorin Obiang (who is in line to succeed his father), spends millions of dollars of state funds financing his lavish lifestyle which includes luxurious property in Malibu, a Gulfstream jet, Michael Jackson memorabilia and a car collection that could easily make billionaires go green with envy.
Yes, his excellency has it pretty excellent.
And then there was “His Majesty King Mswati III, Kingdom of Swaziland:”
Sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch presides over a country which has one of the world’s highest HIV prevalence rates: ver 35 percent of adults. Its average life expectancy is the lowest in the world at 33 years; nearly 70 percent of the country’s citizens live on less than $1 a day and 40 percent are unemployed.
But for all the suffering of the Swazi people, King Mswati has barely shown concern or interest. He lives lavishly, using his kingdom’s treasury to fund his expensive tastes in German automobiles first-class leisure trips around the worldand women
Oh, it’s good to be the king.
So glad you, taxpayer, picked up the check last night. Here’s what they ate during dinner on the South Lawn, after being shuttled their via trolleys from the White House, a distance of about 15 feet.
The repast was described as “a largely American-style dinner with hints of Africa sprinkled throughout each of the four courses:”
Chilled spiced tomato soup and socca crisps, which are made of chick peas;
Chopped farm-stand vegetable salad using produce from the first lady’s garden;
Grilled dry-aged Wagyu beef served with chermoula, a marinade used in North African cooking, sweet potatoes and coconut milk.
Cappuccino fudge cake dressed with papaya scented with vanilla from Madagascar.
An eager Lionel Richie sang for the assembled tyrants after they’d finished gorging themselves. He complained that his time onstage had been cut back.
Obama of course waxed deeply poetic:
Tonight we are making history, and it’s an honor to have all of you here.
And I stand before you as the President of the United States and a proud American. I also stand before you as the son of a man from Africa (Applause.) The blood of Africa runs through our family. And so for us, the bonds between our countries, our continents, are deeply personal . . .
And so I propose a toast to the New Africa — the Africa that is rising and so full of promise — and to our shared task to keep on working for thepeace and prosperity and justice that all our people seek and that all our people so richly deserve.
Sad to see the president bonding with so many corrupt jerks. These people are not the true Africa. These are the people who have clawed their way over the corpses of innocent Africans so they could steal their money.
We need to have relations with these people. But a dinner in their honor is sickening.
Here’s some handheld video of Obama’s appearance. Not sure where it came from.