The US-African Leaders Summit White House Soiree
While everyday Americans process the very real possibility that if the border remains open, untold numbers are in danger of contracting a deadly virus imported from West Africa – one that, after causing its victims to hemorrhage out of every orifice of their body, ends in death – Barack Obama is busy hosting an elaborate party for African heads of state and their spouses.
As part of a three-day US-African Leaders Summit, which the president chose to host despite an exponentially-growing Ebola scare migrating from West Africa to parts unknown, Barack Obama hoped the three-day event will boost America’s ties with the Dark Continent beyond being able to say that America now ‘shares the health’ with the virus-stricken region.
After working up an appetite, greeting Michelle, who wore a cut-out neon yellow-colored dress by Prabal Gurung and a prominent bun perched on top of her head, and Barack, the 400+ guests were transported from the White House to a tent on the South Lawn for dinner. The means of transportation was the same trolley cars used to ferry guests from the White House to a tent on the South Lawn in the dead of winter, where a similarly lavish state dinner was held for President François Hollande of France.
Among those with unpronounceable names who were carefree enough to attend the festivities in the midst of a looming pandemic were the presidents of South Sudan, South Africa, Gambia, Burkina Faso, and Malawi – the country known for being the home of Madonna’s adopted son David Banda. His Royal Highness King of Swaziland Mswati III and wife Inkhosikati La Mbikiza rode on the trolley, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn.
Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, the man who pled innocent to “murder and other charges for his alleged role in organizing violence that left more than 1,000 people dead after Kenya's 2007 elections,” dined with his African comrades under the elegant orange tent aglow with warm low-lighting. What’s unclear is whether or not Kenyatta, if asked, told the same story about Barack Obama’s birth as the president’s step-grandmother, Sarah Hussein Obama.
From the world of liberalism, Jimmy Carter, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and de Blasio's predecessor Michael Bloomberg were all there, as were actors Chiwetel Ejiofor, star of 12 Years A Slave, Robert De Niro and wife Grace Hightower who is African-American, and Meb Keflezighi, the Eritrean-born American winner of the Boston Marathon.
For comic relief, Vice President Joe Biden was there along with wife Jill. To deter Joe from indulging in an impromptu skinny-dip, he and Jill were seated far from the fountain on the South Lawn.
Oblivious to the fact that US Border Patrol agents are coming down with scabies, lice and bacterial pneumonia, to set the mood, Lionel ‘Say You, Say Me’ Richie tinkled the ivories while guests dined on four courses.
The menu included “chilled spiced tomato soup and socca crisps [and] chopped farm-stand vegetable salad using produce from the first lady's garden.” Those luscious side dishes accompanied the grilled dry-aged Wagyu beef at $100 a pound, which means that for 400+ guests the beef bill probably came in at around $30,000. But never mind all that, because the steaks were served with American wine and very economical “marinade used in North African cooking… chermoula, sweet potatoes and coconut milk.”
About the time Macky Sall, the president of Senegal, who Obama publicly lectured last year for his anti-gay marriage stance, issued a warning from Africa that the Ebola outbreak is a “threat against humanity,” more than 4,000 miles away, the president, first lady, and 400+ guests were finishing up dinner with “cappuccino fudge cake dressed with papaya scented with vanilla from Madagascar.”
Standing to make a toast Obama introduced himself, saying, “I stand before you as the president of the United States, a proud American.” Mercifully, the president left off the part about how his wife, for most of her adult life, was not proud to be American.
Obama also said, “I also stand before you as the son of a man from Africa.” The “son of a man” part is something the president should have told Chris Jansing, reporting from the White House for MSNBC. Chris remarked that the US-Africa Summit has high expectations to positively impact Obama’s legacy due to “the fact that he’s from Kenya.”
What happened, didn’t Ms. Jansing see a copy of Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate?
Missing only a Kenyan drumbeat as a backdrop to his moving words, and while the blood of Africans and non-Africans alike fills the eyes and ears of dying Ebola victims, Obama said “The blood of Africa runs through our family, so for us, the bonds between our countries, our continents are deeply personal.”
Prior to offering a toast to “the new Africa” that, despite exporting Ebola, the president feels “is rising and so full of promise,” Obama fondly recalled visiting historic sites in Ghana, Senegal, and South Africa for photo ops, funerals and pro-gay rights arm-twisting.
In the closing remarks to his toast, Obama spoke of his visits to Kenya, but didn’t mention his brother George Hussein Onyango Obama, who lives in a shanty in Kenya, the memorable South African selfie he took with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt, the fake deaf translator who stood behind him translating his gobbledygook at Mandela’s funeral, or Michelle indulging in fried fat cakes while on safari in Botswana.
And so despite an African-sourced Ebola crisis creeping its way north and west, a good time was had by all, and luckily the tent was big enough to fit all those extra-large African headdresses, all that Wagyu steak, and Michelle’s prominent buns…er, I mean bun.
Jeannie hosts a blog at www.jeannie-ology.com