“When I am right one thousand times, no one remembers; but when I go wrong even once, everyone sits up and takes note,” so goes a common saying. This can be said about US’ President George W. Bush, who has done many good things for Africa, but most of which are not fully appreciated in reaction to his decision to invade Iraq in 2003 that lost him many admirers and attracted widespread condemnation.
Be it as it may, in a general sense, for Africa President Bush has not been the bad man he is deemed to be in some parts of the world. Nowhere has his stamp on African life been so pronounced as in the project he engineered and financially supports even up to today, the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) that appropriately bears his name. Most foreign interventions assist leaders to entrench their positions due to their country’s strategic locations, but not so about PEPFAR, that has gone directly to save thousands of lives and given hope to thousands of people infected with the HIV/ Aids.
Anti-retroviral drugs, special programmes for infected mothers, sensitization and counseling, direct financial assistance, and more; all these have improved our lot, for not one person in Africa has been left unscathed by the Aids scourge. In addition to this, Bush has offered more millions of dollars to Africa to fight against malaria.
Then there is the much-touted ‘no aid but fair trade’ song that is on the lips of all of us Africans about how we want to be related to the developed world. The Bush administration offered some African countries a good chance to prove their capability in feeding the US market with goods, under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) partnership that allowed trading with America under preferential conditions. Africa only has itself to blame for failing to utilise this opportunity that offered so much hope.
Bush has also engaged his country into giving much needed humanitarian and logistical support to countries that are suffering conflicts that have led to massive displacements of people, rendering them in need of shelter, food and medication. In Darfur, DR Congo, Uganda and the Sudan, and other areas where violence has disintegrated communities, Bush has shown his desire to end such violent conflicts.
For these reasons and others, Africa recognises and appreciates Bush’s efforts to reduce suffering and promote development, and prays for more and greater interventions.