Thursday Reads: Kamala Harris Tours Africa and Other News

Good Afternoon!!

Last night, Dakinikat suggested that I write about what Kamala Harris has been up to lately. She has been travelling through Africa on a kind of good will tour. It isn’t always easy finding media coverage of Harris. Her activities as Vice President are often ignored, and she is often unfairly criticized–not surprising, since she is the first woman and the first person of color to serve as Vice President . But she has been getting some positive coverage during this trip. Here’s a sampling:

AP: Harris out to reframe US views on Africa, foster partnership.

ACCRA, Ghana (AP) — If U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris has a favorite number on her trip to Africa, it’s undoubtedly 19. That’s the median age in Africa, and she repeats the fact at every opportunity.

For Harris, it’s not a piece of trivia but the driving force behind the stepped-up U.S. outreach to African countries. Washington is racing to build partnerships on the oldest inhabited continent with the youngest population, a test that could reshape the economy in Africa and, by extension, the rest of the world.

In the near future, “1 in 4 people on this earth will be on this continent,” Harris said during a conversation with reporters. “Just on that alone — the demographics of it all alone — if you put aside the present and the past, if we are to be forward-looking in terms of national policies and priorities, we have to look at this continent.”

As part of that effort, Harris on Wednesday announced more than $1 billion in public and private money for women’s economic empowerment. The money is expected to come from a mix of nonprofit foundations, private companies and the U.S. government, and it’s intended to expand access to digital services, provide job training and support entrepreneurs.

Harris made the announcement during a meeting with six Ghanaian female entrepreneurs. It was her final event in Ghana before she left for Tanzania, where she arrived Wednesday evening, as part of a weeklong Africa tour that will also take her to Zambia.

She called the women at the table “a model for the potential of all people,” and said that “the well-being of women will be a reflection of the well-being of all of society.”

Harris made the announcement during a meeting with six Ghanaian female entrepreneurs. It was her final event in Ghana before she left for Tanzania, where she arrived Wednesday evening, as part of a weeklong Africa tour that will also take her to Zambia.

She called the women at the table “a model for the potential of all people,” and said that “the well-being of women will be a reflection of the well-being of all of society.”

Jobs are scarce for these young people, and one goal of Harris’ trip is to encourage U.S. businesses to invest in Africa.

“If we don’t find jobs — because that’s what it’s about — for this growing young population, it will be dangerous for the political stability on the continent,” said Rama Yade, senior director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center. “Because they will attack the institutions if they don’t have the means for living.”

Her vision, officials said, was a trip centered around youth, women and innovation, rather than the humanitarian assistance that often characterizes American perception of Africa.

It’s a vision that requires money, and the desire for investment was on full display during a state banquet Monday at Ghana’s presidential palace where Hollywood stars Spike Lee, Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson were among the attendees.

Read more at the AP link.

In Ghana on Tuesday, Harris faced the shameful history of black slavery at Cape Coast Castle.

ABC News: Kamala Harris grows emotional describing the ‘blood’ and ‘crimes’ at infamous slave post in Ghana.

Vice President Kamala Harris started her Tuesday in Ghana looking toward what the future could hold for Africa — but on Tuesday afternoon, she looked back at the dark history of slavery on the continent, visibly moved by what she had just seen at Cape Coast Castle, where Africans were held captive before being sent to the Americas and Caribbean.

“Being here was — was immensely powerful and moving,” Harris said after touring the grounds, her voice breaking with emotion. “When we think about human beings retrieved by the hundreds of thousands, in this very place that we now stand. The crimes that happened here. The blood that was shed here.”

Harris had a speech prepared for the tour, placed on a stand before she walked out, but afterward an official in the vice president’s office said the remarks she actually gave were mostly off the cuff.

“There are dungeons here where human beings were kept. Men, women and children. They were kidnapped from their homes. They were transported hundreds of miles from their homes, not really sure where they were headed. And they came to this place of horror,” Harris said. “Some to die, many to starve and be tortured, women to be raped — before they were then forcibly taken on a journey thousands of miles from their home to be sold by so-called merchants and taken to the Americas, to the Caribbean to be an enslaved people.”

During her tour, Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff entered the dungeons, first where the men were kept, and then looked out to the ocean where the ships would leave. Harris stood there for a moment, hands on her hips, at one point wiping her face.

As they walked down toward the dungeon for women and the “Door of No Return,” where slaves were forced onto ships, Harris was seen again overcome with emotion, wiping her face.

She emerged from the female dungeon with flowers, placing them in an adjacent room where others had also left them on the floor against a wall.

“We don’t know the numbers who died on their way to this place, the numbers who were killed during that passage on the Atlantic [Ocean],” she said after the tour.

But, she said, “The horror of what happened here must always be remembered. It cannot be denied. It must be taught. History must be learned. And we must then be guided by what we know also to be the history of those who survived in the Americas, in the Caribbean — those who proudly declare themselves to be the diaspora.”

Last night, Harris began a three-day visit to Tanzania.

Reuters: Kamala Harris announces Tanzania trade boost during Africa tour.

DAR ES SALAAM, March 30 (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris announced plans to boost trade with and investment in Tanzania during a visit there on Thursday, part of an African tour aimed at strengthening ties with a continent where China and Russia increasingly hold sway….

Harris started her trip on Sunday in Ghana before flying late on Wednesday to Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam, where she met President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Thursday.

The two women gave short statements to the media before going into a longer session of private talks.

“Working together, it is our shared goal to increase economic investment in Tanzania and strengthen our economic ties,” Harris said, listing a number of initiatives.

They included a new memorandum of understanding between the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) and the government of Tanzania.

That will facilitate up to $500 million in financing to help U.S. companies export goods and services to Tanzania in sectors including infrastructure, transportation, digital technology, climate and energy security and power generation.

Harris also mentioned a new partnership in 5G technology and cybersecurity, as well as a U.S.-supported plan by LifeZone Metals to open a new processing plant in Tanzania for minerals that go into electric vehicle batteries.

“This project is an important and pioneering model, using innovative and low-emission standards. Importantly, raw minerals will soon be processed in Tanzania, by Tanzanians,” she said, adding that the plant would deliver battery-grade nickel to the United States and the global market from 2026.

AP: Harris enters the fray over democracy with visit to Tanzania.

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday encouraged Tanzania’s fragile progress toward a more inclusive government, stepping onto the front lines of America’s push to strengthen democracy in Africa as part of her weeklong trip to the continent.

Standing alongside Samia Suluhu Hassan, Tanzania’s first female president, Harris cited recent decisions from Tanzania such as lifting a ban on opposition rallies and encouraging more press freedom as “important and meaningful steps” toward democratic reforms. Hassan has undone some of Tanzania’s more oppressive policies even though she came to power as a member of the ruling party.

“You have been a champion in the sense of democratic reforms in this country, and in that way have expanded our partnership,” Harris said.

Hassan noted Tanzania’s participation in a virtual summit on democracy hosted by the White House this week, saying it “sends a clear message that the fathers of democracy recognize our efforts in building a democratic nation.”

The Tanzanian leader is finishing out the term of President John Magufuli, who earned a reputation for stamping out dissent, arresting critics and forcing them into exile, before he died in office. Hard-liners have been uncomfortable with some of Hassan’s changes, however, which could cost her in the next election two years from now.

The meeting between Hassan and Harris, the first woman to be America’s vice president, was a noteworthy show of support from the United States as it deepens its outreach to Africa. Harris announced $560 million in U.S. assistance for Tanzania, some of which will require congressional approval. The money is intended to expand the countries’ trade relationship, as well as encourage democratic governance.

Hassan also pushed for the U.S. to make long duration visas available for Tanzanian citizens, something she said would improve ties between the countries. Issues with U.S. visas, from availability to processing delays, have generated frustration around Africa.

That’s what’s happening with our Vice President. In the future, I’ll try to pay more attention to her public activities. If you’re interested in some of the criticism Harris is dealing with, you can check out these two articles:

Li Zhou at Vox: There are valid critiques of Kamala Harris. They also don’t tell the full story. What’s fair — and unfair — about the intense scrutiny she’s received as vice president.

Politico: The White House goes to bat for Harris. 

More Stores to Check Out Today

The Washington Post: Wall Street Journal reporter arrested in Russia by security service.

Jose Pagliery at The Daily Beast: Why the Trump Org Suddenly Fired Its Jailed Money Man’s Lawyer.

Raw Story: Allen Weisselberg just fired his Trump-funded lawyers — is he about to flip?

Giselle Barreto Fetterman at Elle: The Tired Trope of the ‘Power Hungry’ Woman. In an exclusive op-ed, Gisele Fetterman recounts the “vicious attacks” she received after her husband, Sen. John Fetterman, checked into Walter Reed to seek treatment for clinical depression.

CNN: Wrong things can be changed’: Justice Sotomayor speaks on disillusionment.

People: Ivanka Trump Is ‘No Longer’ Talking Dad Out of Hard Situations, Source Says: ‘She Can’t Help Him Now.’

Matt Pearce at The Los Angeles Times: Commentary: If Twitter finally dies, where do we find the smart people?

NBC News: Train carrying ethanol derails and catches fire in Minnesota, forcing residents to evacuate.

The Washington Post: The Vulcan Files: Secret trove offers rare look into Russian cyberwar ambitions.

That’s all I have for you today. What are you reading and thinking about?

19 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Kamala Harris Tours Africa and Other News”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Have a nice Thursday, Sky Dancers!!

  2. quixote says:

    I only saw yesterday that Harris was even in Africa. Great to hear more about her!

    • bostonboomer says:

      She seems to be making a good impression there, at least.

    • NW Luna says:

      I’m proud that Kamala Harris is our VP. Most VPs seem to not do much of importance, but she is being America’s presence, cognizant and involved in many policies around the world as well as here. Badly needed after Trump and Pence. The 2nd Gentleman also displays a sincere and diplomatic role. I don’t see that there’s much of anything to criticize about Kamala — except of course she’s a brown woman which is the reason for the conscious or unconscious bias in the media’s unfavorable coverage. She’s arguably got more relevant experience than Obama when he was first elected as POTUS.

      #Kamala2024 or, if Biden runs in 2024, #Kamala2028!

  3. NW Luna says:

    From the Memeorandum sidebar:

    President Biden issued an official proclamation declaring that transgender Americans “shape our nation’s soul” and established a holiday relating to the group this week.

    How insulting that it’s taken out of Women’s History Month, but then that’s representative of how men who say they’re women colonize women’s spaces. I hope our nation’s soul is not denying science or pretending to be something it’s not.

    • quixote says:

      That sounds like it was written by a committee.

      Reality always wins, though. Give it five years, maybe only two, maybe as long as ten, and everybody will turn out to have always been aware of the problems. Then they’ll blame feminists for not bringing them up The Right Way.

      (Meaning, yes, even when they have to bend to reality, they’ll figure out some way it was all women’s fault. Unless, of course, we really have teleported to a future free of misogyny.)

  4. dakinikat says:

  5. bostonboomer says:

    He hasn’t been charged yet, but it looks like it could be a conspiracy charge, because Pecker tied Trump to the second woman who was paid off through the National Enquirer.

  6. dakinikat says:

    Finland is officially a NATO member!

  7. bostonboomer says: