Obama’s tour a personal success but deep concern about US policy remains.
As soon as Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairwoman of the African Union Commission, had told President Barack Obama: “Although we welcome you as President of the United States, we also claim you as our own,” he held the attention of assembled officials and regional leaders for his lengthy speech at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa on 27 July.
Like so much of Obama’s Africa tour on 23-27 July, it was stronger on symbolism and inspiration than on policy. The first US President to address the AU, he tried to break out of the diplomatic straitjacket and inject some criticism of the mounting clampdown on oppositionists and journalists in the region. “Democracy is not just formal elections,” he told a cheering AU audience, amid awkward smiles from the senior politicians amongst them.