So the White House announced over the weekend that Barack Obama would make his first trip to Africa in July, a short stayover in Ghana. Why Ghana? It is democratic and relatively stable. But, all things considered, it is not a political or economic powerhouse on the continent compared to countries like Nigeria or South Africa.

This is definitely all about domestic politics for Obama. First black president at the Ghanaian slave castles? OH MY GOD THAT’S POIGNANT. I’m not even joking. Those slave castles are probably the greatest historical draw on the continent for African-American tourists.

Still, surely there could be a visit to Africa that is about more than just a photo op. TexasinAfrica has some suggestions:

It’s interesting, though, that American presidents actively avoid conflict when traveling to Africa. This can’t all be attributed to security issues; presidents regularly travel to Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel-Palestine, and any number of other places where they’re much more likely to be assassinated. Why do they do this? Part of it has to do with a general fear of “Africa” on the part of the Secret Service, etc. But the postcolonial legacy also plays a role. African countries are generally viewed by American policymakers as immature basket cases, not as functional states. In some cases this is a fair assessment; in others, it is not.

More importantly, however, is the impact that a presidential visit could have on a less-than-perfect situation in a place like Kenya or Uganda, or, dare I say it, the Congo. If anything could force disputing parties to the table in most African countries, it’s a visit from Barack Obama. His presence alone would attract such a degree of attention and respect that serious, high-level negotations could occur. Here’s hoping the president will choose to take a risk on his next visit to the continent.

Woah. Check out the video of celebrations in Accra following opposition leader John Atta-Mills’ close victory in the Ghana’s elections. Once I got to his speech I couldn’t help but think of Obama’s whole “we are the United States of America” schtick. It’s an understatement to say that there’s a lot of political dysfunction in many African countries, but could Obama’s victory in the United States be at least some small inspiration to the hopeful election in this West African country? Atta-Mills is around the 40 second mark.