Hilary Clinton wins hearts as she concludes African tour

In Liberia, Hillary Clinton brought out the crowds despite torrential rain.

In Congo, she came away deeply shaken from a meeting with rape victims. Kenya's prime minister said Africa didn't need lectures from the West about democracy, but Africa got one anyway.

At home, the US secretary of state's visit may have been overshadowed by the aftermath of her husband's mission to North Korea to bring home two imprisoned US journalists. But on her seven-nation Africa tour, ending today with a stopover in the West African island republic of Cape Verde, she made one splash after another.

Coupled with Barack Obama's visit last month, the two trips to Africa were the earliest into an administration by any secretary of state or president, underlining Washington's pledges to pay more attention to the continent.

In the US, the headline-making moment of the trip was her testy response to a question about Bill Clinton. But in Africa, it quickly became a footnote. What people wanted to hear was support for democracy, clean government and ending its many civil wars.

Clinton's ambitious itinerary resembled those of China's foreign minister, who makes extensive annual tours of his country's allies on the continent. But where China tends to sidestep the issues of corruption democracy, Clinton confronted them head-on.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, speaking hours before Clinton arrived, said Africa did not need to be lectured about democracy. After they met, she did just that. "The absence of strong and effective democratic institutions has permitted ongoing corruption, impunity, politically motivated violence and a lack of respect for a rule of law," Clinton said. "These conditions ... are continuing to hold Kenya back."

Odinga switched to a more conciliatory tone, saying African countries could learn from Clinton's example when she conceded defeat to Obama during the US presidential primaries.

"That is a lesson Africa needs to learn seriously," he said. "In Africa, in many countries, elections are never won, they are only rigged. The losers never accept that they lost. If we do this, we will be able to develop democracy truly in the African continent."

In Angola, she told Foreign Minister Assuncao Afonso dos Anjos that his country needed to write a new constitution, prosecute human rights crimes and hold a proper presidential election.

"So, Mr. Minister, we have our work cut out for us," she said.

And in Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer, she said "the disconnect between Nigeria's wealth and its poverty is a failure of governance at the federal, state and local level."

To Africa's reformers, often an embattled minority, these were heartening words.

Emma Ezeazu, who campaigns for free and fair elections in his native Nigeria, said Clinton's visit showed that US officials "are becoming more pro-active in their relationship with Nigeria, in particular on the subject of governance and democracy. They are paying more attention."

Tiseke Kasambala, a Johannesburg-based researcher for Human Rights Watch, commended her grasp of human rights abuses in Africa — not just the headline-makers, like Zimbabwe and Congo, but the lesser publicized offenders such as Angola.

In Goma, a Congo town in a region ravaged by gang rapes amid continuing fighting between army and rebels, Clinton announced $17 million in American aid to help the victims.

She toured a squalid camp of 18,000 refugees and heard one of them tell her, "We really want to return home, that's why we are asking America to help stop the fighting."

"That's why I'm here," Clinton replied. "I want you to be able to go home."

In Cape Town, South Africa, big, joyous crowds turned out for her at a housing project. In Liberia, founded in 1847 by freed American slaves, rain-drenched crowds waved US and Liberian flags at Clinton's motorcade.

The crowds in Nigeria and Angola were fewer, but community and religious leaders seemed excited just to be with Clinton and be heard by her.

Nancy Kachingwe, a Malawian with the development group ActionAid, applauded Clinton's "very strong emphasis around women's rights."

Some of former President George W. Bush's Africa initiatives, particularly on AIDS, have been widely praised in Africa. But there were also sharp differences over world trade, global warming, and over the Bush administration's anti-terrorism strategy.

Washington wants to buy Africa's oil and gain access to its markets, and fears instability in places like Somalia could fuel anti-U.S. terrorism. Clinton won points by stressing that as the US pursues its interests, it sees the virtue of "working with and listening to our friends and allies, and creating not a multipolar world, but a multi-partner world."

Kachingwe said what matters now is the follow-up.

"There will be a positive impact" from Clinton's trip, she said. "But somewhere along the way, we do need to see ... what's going to come to keep the momentum going."

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special
tvNick Frost, Natalie Gumede and Michael Troughton step up
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Beard, Ben Schnetzer, Douglas Booth and Jack Farthing in ‘The Riot Club’
filmReview: Sheer nastiness of Riot Club takes you aback
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Senior Research Executive - Quantitative/Qualitative

£27000 - £31000 Per Annum Excellent Benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

ETL Developer / Consultant

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Geography Teacher, Immediate start, Dover School

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education is urgently s...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week