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NAIROBI -When Barack Obama was elected U.S. president in 2008, the event was hailed across Africa. He is the son of a Kenyan, after all, and many on the continent considered Obama one of their own.
So Africans' hopes were high when he took office. Perhaps too high, suggests Kenyan political commentator Barrack Muluka.
"If we in Africa were looking up to him, to come with a magic wand to solve our problems, then I think our expectations were misplaced," said Muluka. "He was not the president of Africa. He has been the president of the United States of America, elected by American citizens, and his foreign policy will be governed first and foremost by American interests."
Muluka argues that because Obama was hindered by frequent questions about his birthplace, especially during his first term in office, he couldn't be perceived as favoring the continent, and therefore did not do as much as he might have otherwise.
But as president, Obama made four trips to sub-Saharan Africa, visiting six countries. He challenged African governments on issues like human, LGBT and women's rights.
He set the tone during his first visit in 2009, to Ghana, when he challenged some African leaders.
"Now, make no mistake: History is on the side of these brave Africans, not with those who use coups or change constitutions to stay in power," Obama said. "Africa doesn't need strongmen. It needs strong institutions."
Source: Voice of America