On the streets of the capital of Ghana they are pulling out all the stops for a one-day visit by the US President.
As the first black American President, whose father was born in Kenya, Barack Obama is assured of an African hero’s welcome. An analyst at Harvard University, Robert Rotberg, said: “This is a symbolic visit to Africa and he’s chosen a country which has had a very successful democratic recent history, which has had a very positive election in the last year, which is progressing economically”. Ghana is being held up as an example of economic reform and good governance. Elections in December were praised for their fairness, with an opposition candidate, John Atta Mills, winning the presidency. Ghana is also set to expand its oil industry, in a region that has become increasingly important to the US, which is trying to find new energy supplies. Observers say Washington is also concerned about security in the Gulf of Guinea, where attacks by militants have affected Nigeria’s oil output. But one of the main highlights for Obama is likely to be a visit to the historic Cape Coast Castle. It was from here that many African slaves were sent to Europe and the US. Castle guide Morgan Mensah said: “His visit to the castle is very historic in the sense that it is also re-echoing to our brothers and sisters in the diaspora that they owe it a duty to the ancestors that they have to visit Africa.” This may only be a visit to one African country, and only for 24-hours, but this symbolic visit has sparked great interest right across the continent.