The first US leader of African American ancestry, Mr Obama took his family to Goree Island to visit the House of Slaves, an 18th century fort which was once a notorious embarkation point for those destined for a life of slavery in the Americas.The US president is due to visit South Africa on Friday, as Mr Mandela lies in the Pretoria hospital where he has now been for almost three weeks.
Strengthening democracies is one of the key focuses for Mr Obama’s first major visit to the continent of his father’s birth, where many of his relatives still live.
The main policy priority however is to boost trade, both within Africa and for American investors.
Concerns over Mr Mandela’s failing health will overshadow Mr Obama’s trip, which was almost called off due to fears it would disturb South Africa’s vigil for the stricken anti-apartheid leader.
But in Senegal Mr Obama received an enthusiastic welcome, as locals embraced the long-awaited presence of the president with whom they feel a special bond.
His journalism in the London Review of Books and elsewhere and his book Whoops!
explained roughly what was going on in terms that even a humanities graduate could understand (I remember one riff about a London cabbie and a Scottish banknote, though I’m still a bit hazy on what a collateralised debt obligation is).
He is travelling with 600 business leaders from the US.
But he and his team will be aware of suggestions that the US is “playing catch-up” in Africa, in the words of one analyst.
The noises off we hear emanating from the world of money are not directly responsible for the bad things that happen to our characters; these are the result of personal wickedness, arcane coincidence, institutional stupidity (the book is at its most overtly political in its treatment of the post-9/11 criminal justice system and the immigration sector) or – realistically enough – dumb luck.
- Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” published in 1948 takes place in a small village in New England.
But the book is a more or less unimpeachably plausible portrait of one (fictional) street in Clapham, a popular south London “village” where a spacious but fairly hideous Victorian house can command a price approaching a hundred times the UK’s median annual income. A diffident hate campaign against the residents is under way.