Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, and even Jill, the wife of the president, Joe Biden, appear among the heavyweights dispatched by the US government to the continent, forgotten until yesterday and suddenly inserted into the Potomac priority agenda.
Mrs. Harris’s pilgrimage will last three days during which she, in addition to Ghana, will visit Tanzania and Zambia, to the still audible echoes of Foreign Minister Blinken’s promise to distribute 150 million dollars to some countries of the continent.
It is obvious that the offering is not free: the expected reciprocity is that Africa distances itself in its ties with China and Russia, two world powers with a long history of cooperation with the continent in areas ranging from education to defense and, ultimately, but not least, diplomacy.
American foreign policy makers are counting on Mrs. Harris as a mixed race mother born in India and a Jamaican father, both assimilated, as far as possible, into the Union system, a factor they consider a point in her favor.
Hence the vice-presidential agenda is centered on youth, particularly those under 20 years of age in the confidence that they lack the experiences of their elders, those who are thoroughly familiar with the North American support for the former European metropolises and, worse still, the South African apartheid.
Included in her program in Ghana are a speech and “several contacts with emerging African youth,” a press official close to the White House revealed.
The agenda includes contacts with Tanzanian president, Samia Suluhu, the country’s first female president, and, in Zambia, with businessmen and food security, the latter vital in a continent where several countries are doomed to famine, none of which appears on scale program. For Africans, aware of the White House’s haste, it is obvious that the present global context, for example the Ukrainian conflict, favors extracting from the US government the resources that it has denied the continent until not long ago.
In this sense, it is worth remembering that the previous occupant of the executive mansion, Donald Trump, described the African States as “pig-sty countries” (or “shitty”, depending on the translator) and, not satisfied, dismissed the then Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, on a tour of Africa to make amends for the presidential insult.
From then until a few weeks ago, given the dogma of the continuity of US foreign policy, Washington showed no interest in Africa, now immersed in a 180-degree turn.
With that background, it’s reasonable to assume that for the African hosts, Vice President Harris’ charm offensive, and those who came before her in similar endeavors, must have frowned a few times, unless they suffered from selective amnesia.