US Vice President Kamala Harris Visits Ghana

The last five US Presidents, if you also count Vice Presidents and First Ladies, have all visited Ghana, thus proving that this country is indeed a special place, to say the least.

US Vice President Kamala Harris upon arriving in Ghana
on 26 March 2023.

Bill Clinton started the trend (alongside Hillary) in 1998 when he became the first US President to come to this country.  Then in 2008 George W. Bush, along with his wife and Condolezza Rice, touched down in Accra and left such a strong impression, in his own special way, that now there's a major highway in the city named after him.  The following year, newly-elected President Barack Obama also came to visit.  Then about a decade later, in 2018 Melania Trump, wife of the Donald, who was US President at the time, made her way over.  And now, just a couple of weeks ago Vice President Kamala Harris popped up with her husband, Second Gentleman (lol) Douglas Emhoff in tow.  So as far as I could surmise, Ghana holds the distinction of being the only African country to host such high-ranking officials from five-successive US Presidential administrations, thus proving that this is in fact "the Gateway to Africa".

Ghana isn't perfect, but as can be gleaned from the previous paragraph it is a safe and historical place to land when coming to Africa (as the commenters in the CBS News video embedded above repeatedly point out).  But as hospitable as GH may be, of course the reason such powerful American politicians regularly come over is indeed political.

In the old days, foreign powers and especially those from Western Europe ran roughshod over Africa.  But now Africans know what time it is, and there are other, opposing power players in the game, such as most notably China and Russia.  In fact when VP Harris arrived on 26 March 2023, President Biden was concurrently in the Ukraine, supporting that country in its war against Russia.  So it stands to reason that if that conflict were not ongoing, he would have perhaps come to GH personally.  But more to the point is that countering Russia remains high on the US political agenda.

But according to Kamala herself, she did not come here for political but rather economic reasons:

On this trip, I intend to do work that’s focused on increasing investment here on the continent and facilitating economic growth and opportunity, specifically in the areas of economic empowerment of women and girls, empowerment of youth entrepreneurship, digital inclusion and to support the work that must be done to increase food security.”

Students of history know that whenever the Western powers make these types of statements and commitments in relation to Africa, they aren't doing so solely - if at all - for altruistic purposes.  In fact in the video embedded above as well as the one below, where VP Harris is speaking next to President Nana Akufo-Addo at Jubilee House (Ghana's version of the White House), both emphasize that the United States is here to nurture a "partnership", not to do charity.  But of course when you talk of partnering, if one party is exponentially more powerful than the other, then the weaker one will most likely end up being exploited, especially when the stronger has a history of behaving in such a manner.  But that said, Kamala did go on to make further statements during that above-quoted outing implying that she sympathizes with the plights of those of us, such as entrepreneurs and farmers, who are hustling in GH.  

THE US PLEDGE TO FEMALE ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT IN GH

Sometimes I'll be explaining to the homeys back in the States that in America when a person decides to become an entrepreneur, they usually do so in search of more freedom or money than a conventional job offers.  But out here in Ghana, many people become entrepreneurs because if not, they'd be totally assed out.  And I'm not trying to paint a overly-bleak picture of the country, but my point is that in Ghana there really isn't much of a job market to speak of.  So it'd be cool if whatever funds govvie intends to get from the US or IMF in the near future were dedicated to building one, though I know that's easier said than done.  But on that note, Harris did pledge a hefty $1billion before bouncing, though particularly in the name of women's economic empowerment, but I guess that's where it all starts anyway.

US ALSO PLEDGES ABOUT $20 MILLION IN SECURITY AID

A couple of days prior to making that announcement, VP Harris also stated that the US will grant $100million to be split between Ghana and four other nations in West Africa nations for security purposes.  In the grand scheme of things that's basically a token amount of money anyway, which can only do so much as far as international security is concerned.  But as implied by Al-Jazeera, said aid probably has something to do with countering China and Russia.

LGBT ISSUES

When Nana Akufo-Addo was elected President of Ghana in 2016, my prediction was that since he's very pro-Western, if he did two terms by the time all was said and done homosexuality would be legalized.  I still more or less believe that the passing of such laws is inevitable.  And yes, VP Harris did use the opportunity of her visit to promote the LGBT cause, as to expected from a US Democrat these days.  There was some backlash, with the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, going viral with his resistance to the idea.  But again, that was to be expected, just as Obama propagated gay rights in Africa and how the US Democratic Party, including Kamala Harris, continue to do so stateside.

GHANA AIN'T FOR POLITICS

When VP Harris gave that speech at Jubilee House on March 27th, she started off with that type of bland rhetoric you would expect from pretty much any major politician visiting Ghana (as well as using the opportunity to throw a jab or two at the Russians, which they didn't appreciate).  But then she started to talk about the country's role in promoting independence and democracy in Africa, as well as its shared history with African-Americans, and that's when the Kamala began to liven up and become a little more personal in her presentation.  And as a matter of example she stated that Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), the greatest civil rights' leader in American history, actually came to Ghana when the country achieved independence in 1957, which is just an interesting fact I wanted to share, as I didn't know that beforehand.

To me, the way Kamala's disposition changed with the subject of her speech further illustrates that Ghana ain't for politics.  I don't really know how to put it into words, but I would say for a diasporan especially, even if you come to GH for whatever reasons, there are certain things that you see and experience which will affect you profoundly, and I don't mean in the sense of being a tourist.  For instance, one of those things would be the climate.  Whatever the sun touches it affects, and that's especially true in this part of the world.

Notice Kamala Harris's hair when she first arrived in Ghana on March 27th
via Accra's Kotoka International Airport...
...as opposed to how it looked a couple of days upon visiting Cape Coast Castle, an experience
which tends to have a more-profound first-time effect on many people, including Africans.

Every indoor venue VP Harris found herself in undoubtedly had top-notch air-conditioning.  But as the trip wore on, even though she was only here for a couple of days, you could see the effect the climate and overall experience started to have on her hair for instance.  And it is possible that Kamala carried her stylist with her or, in the very least, would have access to the best Ghana has to offer.  But again, it ain't really like that.

Getting in touch with your roots isn't the type of experience where someone, even a person who's in the public spotlight, tends to be preoccupied with their hair.  For example after spending a day here and doing his official thing, George Bush looked like he was deadass on vacation.  It's one thing to travel from the United States to a Third World country that's going through all types of hell.  But coming to a place like Ghana is more like reconnecting with the birthplace of mankind and the role that we are meant to play on this Earth.

CONCLUSION

Believe it or not, I really didn't intend for this post to end up reading like some type of travel brochure.  I didn't even give much thought to Vice President Harris coming over until it was reported that she damn near cried while visiting Cape Coast Castle (which isn't even the most prominent slave fort in Ghana).  That's when I said to myself that I need to write an article about her visit ASAP, before the news grows cold.

She officially came over for political, not personal, reasons and in that regard basically dropped the type of post-neocolonial jargon you would expect from an American diplomat visiting Africa these days.  And yes, her presence does further the gay agenda in the Motherland, even if she didn't really harp on the matter.  But as a human being - and this is basis of GHexpat - I feel that all Westerners should visit Ghana or whatever country from their indigenous part of the world that's most natural and peaceful.  No, you're not going to enjoy the full luxuries of Babylon in a place like Ghana.  But living out West, where everything tends to be so modern and fast-paced, sometimes a person needs to step out and get an idea of how the world looked before money-based economies and hardcore urbanization took over.

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