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Clinton wraps up African tour

Hillary Clinton with a South African choir near Cape Town, 8 August 2009
Hillary Clinton received a warm welcome in several states, including South Africa

By Martin Plaut
Africa editor, BBC World Service news

With her visit to Liberia and then Cape Verde, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is coming to the end of her gruelling, seven-nation African tour.

On the one hand it has gone well. She has proved to an audience that was beginning to doubt President Barack Obama's commitment to Africa, that he really takes the continent seriously.

And she delivered the message President Obama first gave during his recent visit to Ghana wherever she went - that Africa's people deserve better from their governments.

As Mrs Clinton told her audience in Kenya: "True economic progress depends not only on the hard work of millions of people who get up every day and do the best they can, often under overwhelming circumstances.

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"It often depends on responsible governments that reject corruption and enforce the rule of law and deliver results for their people."

On the other hand there was little new in the way of policy.

No fresh initiatives on trade or aid and certainly nothing about the most controversial subject on America's agenda - its future military role in Africa.

Africom, the force that oversees US security interests on the continent, remains based in Germany and there was nothing said about possible plans for a military base on African soil.

Mending fences

Perhaps this trip was work in progress.

So in Kenya Mrs Clinton wagged her finger at the government, saying the US was "very disappointed" that no-one responsible for violence in the run up to the country's 2007 election had been prosecuted.

In South Africa she embraced President Jacob Zuma, mending fences with an administration that had become badly strained under Thabo Mbeki.

Displaced people watch as Hillary Clinton tours their camp near Goma, DR Congo, 11 August 2009
Hillary Clinton visited a camp for the displaced in DR Congo

Angolans might have been a little mystified when the secretary of state praised the government for acting to heal the wounds of what she described as "27 years of conflict that undermined the fabric of society", when the US had played a major part in arming and financing one of the parties to that conflict - the rebel movement Unita.

The visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo saw two real moments of drama.

At Mrs Clinton's insistence, she went to the main city in the east, Goma, where she spoke to several rape victims and visited a camp for displaced people.

There is no doubt that she spoke from the heart when she insisted that the perpetrators should be punished.

But her message was partially obscured when Mrs Clinton snapped at a student in the capital, Kinshasa, who appeared to ask what her husband, former President Bill Clinton, thought of China's deals with Congo.

"My husband is not secretary of state, I am," she said.

Marriage proposal

Nigeria and Liberia saw a return to the question of corruption and governance, but the warmth of the welcome the secretary of state received in Monrovia is something she is unlikely to forget.

CLINTON'S AFRICAN TOUR
Kenya
South Africa
Nigeria
Angola
Democratic Republic of Congo
Liberia
Cape Verde

Crowds stood in the falling rain, waving American flags, as she drove into the capital.

But one African is still waiting and hoping even as Mrs Clinton prepares to fly home.

He's Godwin Kipkemoi Chepkurgor, a Kenyan man who told the BBC how happy he is that Mrs Clinton has agreed to convey his marriage offer to her daughter.

In 2000 he wrote to Mrs Clinton's husband Bill, then US president, offering 40 goats and 20 cows for Chelsea Clinton's hand.

In Kenya on the first leg of her African tour, Mrs Clinton was informed by a journalist of the proposal.

"My daughter is her own person. I will convey this very kind offer," she said.

"I feel very good for her [Mrs Clinton] to have answered - almost in the affirmative," Mr Chepkurgor told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

"She promised that she will take the proposal to the daughter and I am now waiting," he said.



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SEE ALSO
Crowds welcome Clinton in Liberia
13 Aug 09 |  Africa
Clinton nudges Nigeria on reform
12 Aug 09 |  Africa
Clinton demands end to Congo rape
11 Aug 09 |  Africa
Clinton urges fair Angola polls
10 Aug 09 |  Africa
Clinton meets South Africa's Zuma
08 Aug 09 |  Africa
Clinton threatens Eritrea action
06 Aug 09 |  Africa

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