Obama is minutely aware that Nigeria epitomises blackness. To your typical Asian or white European or American, Nigeria is the nearest thing to a potential Black Power. To get a sense of what I mean, imagine Malcolm X was alive and became the president of America. Imagine how it would play to white America if his first act were to visit Nigeria. Sure visit Ghana, ‘Ow gosh, ain Obama just so cute visiting the home of that quaint fella Nkrumah. I recon its all good. Ain Ghana just so cute with all them Kente cloths let our Obam pay’em his homage’. However, Nigeria would be a different thing. The situation in Zimbabwe and Somalia is of a different kind. Those nations could not act as a rallying point for Universal black empowerment in quite the same way that Nigeria could. When Nigeria moved into Liberia and Sierra Leone, whatever anyone thinks of the action in terms of success or failure, the reaction in the West was surprisingly one riddled with anxiety. The Nigeria interventions going on in a climate of optimism brought about by Mandela pronouncing that democracy and change was indeed now sweeping through Africa it appeared to me as if the West feared Africa might start solving African problems. I remember that one of the first things that America did in response was to scramble to create a rival intervention force in Senegal.
If you are a black person presented with choices that might affect you in terms of race and you are having difficulty, deciding what decision to make as a black person I find it helps to apply my white supremacist test. It goes something like this, for example, Labour or Conservative who should I vote for. Ask yourself whom would a white Supremacist vote for if he had no choice but to vote. In this instance he would vote conservative so I vote Labour.
Give a white supremacists a nuclear bomb and ask him to blow up just one African nation, chances are he would direct it at Nigeria. Place a gun to the head of a white supremacist and tell him, select one African country whose model of development he would like to see replicated throughout Africa, chances are he would select South Africa or Ghana.
During Obama’s campaign, he steadfastly avoided eye contact with black people in crowds who rushed to congratulate or praise him. Moreover, in the instance when he did, it was as if he had devised a strategy beforehand for such awkward moments. For example, 10 seconds as the maximum time to spend in eye and finger contact with a black person before the wider American viewing public assigned him the unwanted label Black Radical.
Do not misunderstand me, I do sympathise and understand his reticence, since, ultimately, on this occasion, few would argue that the intended goal - especially in the context of African American civil rights struggle - merited the means. However, I believe Obama remains mindful of literally being perceived as “The Black president”. In addition, for all our grand protestations, the truth is nearer to the baser possibility that he simply avoided going to Nigeria because Nigeria’s other international image is that of an upstart black Nation.