Obama in Africa: Why he chose Ghana
The visit is seen as a reward for Ghana's commitment to good governance and democracy. There's also newfound oil and a photo-op at a former slave fort.
Analysts say the setting itself sends a non-verbal acknowledgment of Ghana's democratic successes – and a non-confrontational scolding of the third-term presidents and corrupt dictators that preside elsewhere in Africa.
"It seems to me he chose Ghana for its symbolism," says Steven Ekovich, a policy analyst at the American University of Paris. "He's making his first visit to a country that has had successful democratic transitions where the opposition won. That's a very powerful message to other African populations, and to other African leaders."
Ghana – associated afar with Kente cloth, African liberation, and ruined slave dungeons like the one Obama will visit – finds itself at the center of African intrigue, after five consecutive elections, including a major upset last December.
"If he visited, say, [Zimbabwean President Robert] Mugabe, he would feel obliged to at least indirectly hector Mugabe about his human rights abuses," Ekovich said. "Since he doesn't like to do that, he can come to a country where the country itself is taking that road to human rights and democracy. He doesn't have to say anything."