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September 2003 • Vol 3, No. 8 •

What in The World Is George W. Bush Doing in Africa?

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

Do not trust the horse, Trojans. Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts.

—Virgil (70-19 BC)

Rarely has a world leader seemed more lost, more ill at ease, than the recent portrayal of the incumbent U.S. president strolling around in Africa.

While the former occupant of the White House, William J. Clinton, could boast of some personal relationships and even empathy with Blacks, Bush has always seemed somewhat tone deaf when it came to Black affairs, even somewhat clumsy.

His early campaign days took him to the Southern cultural battleground of South Carolina, when the issue of the racist Confederate flag was raging. Did Bush take a stand opposing the standard that flew against the forces of the Union? He didn’t.

When he was challenged early in his administration as to his civil rights agenda, he pointed to Cabinet appointments Dr. Condoleeza Rice and Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and snickered, essentially, “Here’s my civil rights program.”

He directed the Justice Department to oppose the University of Michigan affirmative action cases then pending in the Supreme Court, calling them “quotas.”

He seemed to be doing all he could to placate the farthest right of the right wing of his party, and went out of his way to conflict with Black leaders.

From his days as Texas Governor to his days as president, Bush seemed to not care what Black Americans thought of him.

Then, he visits one of the most sacred sites in African- American memory, the last place many of the martyred millions saw before their horrific trek into the nightmare awaiting them in the West, and quotes Martin Luther King as if the two of them were homies.

One cannot help but really wonder, what is this guy doing in Africa? What the U.S. seeks in Africa is what nations have always sought abroad—self-interest.

European nations did not colonize the vast majority of the African continent to “help” Africans (although they often claimed to do so). They leached the life out of millions, through repression, exploitation, land theft and racist terrorism because they could steal the wealth, whether in labor or resources, of a rich continent.

Nigeria (one of the nations visited by Bush) is among the largest exporters of oil to the United States. Some 15 percent of U.S. oil comes from there. In a decade or so, over 25 percent of oil will come from there.

Other African nations are rich in minerals and other resources, such as natural gas, diamonds, gold (South Africa is the world’s largest producer!), uranium, manganese, you name it.

Now, do you really believe that Bush is traipsing through the African veldt because he wants to “help” them? Or does he want to help his pals in big business?

Bush is in Africa for the same reason that he forced the invasion of Iraq—for money.

That’s the new globalism, which is nothing but prettified New Age colonialism—the unbridled greed of industrial nations for more, and more of the world’s wealth.

Whenever I see rich and superrich folks like Bush (and those he fronts for) talking about “helping” poor people, I am reminded of the words of the British economist, John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) who once remarked, “Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all.”

As the U.S. economy lurches towards freefall, and as manufacturing jobs flee south across the U.S. border, as cities and states slash essential services, does it seem reasonable that an American president will rush to “help” Africans when America faces such serious challenges? Like a lion silently stalks his prey is how Bush stalks the African veldt. He comes, not to give, but to get.

Copyright 2003, Mumia Abu-Jamal





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