Obama arrives in Ghana

2009-07-10 23:59

Accra - US President Barack Obama arrived in Ghana on Friday on his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa since taking office.

He was welcomed at Kotoka international airport in the oceanside capital Accra by Ghana's President John Atta-Mills to traditional Ashante drumming, chanting and dancing.

Obama and his wife Michelle walked down the plane holding their daughters' hands.

During the 24-hour visit, the United States' first black president was expected to push his vision on good governance and economic development for Africa, hours after securing a $20bn fund to feed the world's hungry during a G8 summit in Italy.

From as early as 08:00, police had blocked off some of the major roads including the airport road, for ordinary motorists.

On Saturday Obama and his wife - a descendant of African slaves - were due to tour Cape Coast Castle, one of Africa's biggest former slave trading posts.

Funerals banned

Authorities in Cape Coast, a town some 160km west of Accra, even banned all funerals this weekend on account of Obama's visit.

Bookshops in Accra, meanwhile, were stocked with piles of Obama's The Audacity of Hope book.

And larger-than-life size posters of Obama and Atta-Mills with the slogan "partnership for change" and "akwaaba" (native for welcome) appeared everywhere.

Obama picked Ghana for his maiden presidential venture into sub-Saharan Africa because it is one of the few success stories on the continent - in terms of democracy and prosperity.

Obama will speak to Ghana's parliament about democracy and development, but he wants the latest in his series of key foreign policy speeches to be heard in all of Africa.

President Atta-Mills took office in January after one of the most closest votes the country has seen - winning by less than 1% of the vote.