With a public holiday declared in Kenya on the day of his election, Barack Obama came into the U.S. presidency as a symbol of hope for the African continent, as he did for most of the world. But as time went by, what came about was a lukewarm approach that Obama had towards Africa, especially after the efforts of his predecessor, George Bush. Bush’s efforts to alleviate poverty, and encourage proper health and sanity were drastic and profound. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which was founded by Bush in 2003, has been long listed as one of most useful programs that has been established in Africa to work towards the prevention, treatment, and research of HIV/AIDS. This particular effort by Bush was so well articulated during his presidential tenure that even his strongest critics seemed to applaud this well intentioned move.
Due to Bush’s PEPFAR, the rate of HIV/AIDS-related death declined significantly and the provision of antiretroviral drugs helped pregnant women with the disease. Bush was at his humanitarian best in Africa and that was surprising for most part of the world — except for Africans. This didn’t gain the kind of publicity it should have , only because of Bush’s other more unpopular and controversial policies in rest of the developing world. Even though Obama inherited something which was probably hard to supersede, or even maintain, it would have been easier to take this opportunity and carve a niche for himself. Africans, due to Obama’s Kenyan ancestry, were overjoyed at his inauguration and expected him to have a larger role to play, one which he didn’t fulfill to his expected potential.
Fundamentally the conclusion that can be derived is Africans' hopes for the Obama administration have not been duly fulfilled. Only recently, both the president and the ex-president came face to face in Africa, while one was there as part his official political agenda and one for his humanitarian obligations. This comes across as a first of its kind, when Bush has overtaken Obama for reasons that include saving lives of hundreds of people.