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Obama in Africa: Why he chose Ghana

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The State Department calls Ghana "one of our most trusted partners in sub-Saharan Africa" – a compliment matched by the size of its one-acre, four-story Accra embassy, and returned by the number of restaurants Ghanaians have named after Obama, some scattered along Accra's George W. Bush Motorway.

For recent US presidents – each ever more focused on democratizing Africa – Ghana has been a natural port of call. Presidents Bill Clinton and Bush visited, the latter several times.

"Ghana is this poster child for democratic reform," said Director Larry Diamond of Stanford's Center of Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.

Will Obama revitalize US involvment in Africa?

For Obama, the trip offers a chance to revitalize America's plethora of aid programs with his own celebrity. Obama's smiling face adorns batik fabrics, posters, banners, the back windows of buses, and billboards.

Already, his visit has provoked soul-searching from Africans living in bigger, more powerful countries with a worse track record on democratic reform. In Kenya, the Ghana trip is widely viewed as a judgment on Kenya's troubled power-sharing agreement.

In Nigeria, complaints that Obama bypassed West Africa's powerhouse country encouraged a reaction from its famous playwright, Wole Soyinka.

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