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Ghanaians welcome Obama

US president's visit highlights success of country's democracy

For many in Accra, the honor of hosting Obama is its own reward — an acknowledgement that Ghana aims to be more than another charity case in Washington’s Millennium Development Account, but a respected and viable place to do business.

“This is a symbolic visit,” said Paa Kwesi Holbrook-Smith, an event producer. “We’re not looking for grants and aid and money that is doled our for us being — oh, being their good boys. Nah. I hate that syndrome.”

Instead, Holbrook-Smith said that Ghana is “looking for investments. People should come, build, you know, grow crops, put infrastructure in place that will give people jobs and lift our economy up.”

For others, the trip isn't about Obama, at all — at least not Mr. Obama.

“For me, the historic element of the visit and the most important story will be Michelle Obama’s reaction when she gets to the slave dungeons,” said Amos Anyimadu, who runs the Africa Next think tank. The first lady is widely rumored to be Ghanaian by ancestry, and for Ghanaians, her visit broaches an awkward relationship to the slave trade.

The visit is a different opportunity for Obama. As his ancestors were not slaves, he is an African-American with a direct connection to the continent. Just as Obama succeeded in "pushing the reset button" in dealings between Washington and Moscow, many Ghanaians and Africans are anticipating that his visit here will usher in a new period of U.S.-Africa relations.

More GlobalPost dispatches from Ghana: 

The politics of Ghana's kente cloth

Ghana's illicit trade in discarded electronics

Nigerians fight bad reps in Ghana

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