Sunday, June 23, 2024

Why has Botswana been left out of Barrack Obama’s African tour?

There seems to be a growing discrepancy between the international community’s view of Botswana as a highly successful , enviable country that is a case for true exceptionalism across the African continent and a groundswell of growing home grown perceptions that we are, after all, just another African country that has over the years lost its shine, with an economy that has lost its grip, run (overrun is a better word) by a leadership that is now well off the rails.

It is possible that in their judgement of ourselves, the world community, especially the West, is deliberately charitable – lowering the bars because we are, after all, an African country, a member of a continent best known for wars, disease, poverty, coups, corruption and plunder.

There is also a possibility that, owing to our now entrenched grandeur ambitions and exaggerated perceptions about ourselves, we refuse to be judged on the same terms as other Africans, and that on account of our now truly legendary pretentions to be the leaders of this continent, we refuse to accept anything less.

Whatever the reason, this discrepancy should be unsettling because its sheer magnitude alone implies that one of the two is terribly wrong about the true state of the country.

The international community, especially such organisations like Transparency International and many of the world’s finest credit rating agencies, keep telling us that we are doing just fine, that our leaders are among the finest in the world and that domestic criticism is not only unfair and misplaced but also misformed on account of a failure to grasp just how badly many of our peers are doing.

This month, the President of the United States will visit a number of African countries ÔÇô all of them known for their democratic credentials and a proven track record to uplift their citizens.

Botswana has been left out, and this has left a sour taste in the mouths of many senior governmenmt officials.

A number of observers are asking themselves a question of just how the President of the United States of America, that doyen of democracy, can fail to see the importance of making Botswana a part of his itenerary.

It never used to be like this.

We have hosted Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

But that was then.

The world has moved on. The dynamics have changed. Unfortunately for us, we remain stuck in the past.

It is a hangover of nostalgia, a longing for the good old days.

Used to hogging international attention in the form of accolades, we have never prepared ourselves to deal with the dissappointment when we are suddenly reminded of our shortcomings as we are being put through the drill by President Barrack Obama’s African tour.

We are no longer the darling of the world and we better get used to it, because that is very much how the world will be viewing us from this point on.

It is not a matter for celebration. Saying it out does not in anyway impugn a lack of patriotism, rather it is a painful acceptance of reality as it is playing itself before our eyes.

Many countries that used to be behind us in many indices have since caught up with us.

Others have surpassed us. But the most painful of it all is that there are key indices against which we have been found to be digressing.

A friend has recently compared our country to an aircraft that is on autopilot.
He may have been exaggerating, but he still made the point, nonetheless.

This is not the time to curse the Americans for leaving us out of Obama’s African tour.
Rather it is time for introspection; time to ask ourselves pointed questions on where we lost it, and what went wrong.

It is easy to dismiss it as making a meal out of nothing, that we are not the only African country left out. But for a country used to interrnational glamour and limelight, still that can never be consolation enough.

The Kenyans, who never miss an opportunity to remind the world that Obama traces his ancestry to them, are fuming that they also have been passed over, not for the first time.

The President of America does not visit any country. His visits are meant to communicate distinctive messages to the world. What message would he be sending to the world by visiting Kenya where upon arrival he would be met at the airport by a President and Vice President who have a date with the International Criminal Court?

In another part of the continent, Ghanaians are all smiles because they have been second time lucky.
In the five years that he has been President, Obama will be visiting Ghana for the second time. And it cannot be for no reason.

These are weighty matters of international relations that Botswana cannot dissmis out of hand.
The sooner we engage with these weighty matters of international relations, the better will be our chances of reclaiming our lost glory!


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