July 11, 2009: US President Barack Obama visits Ghana

In 1978 President Jimmy Carter became the first sitting United States President to visit sub-Saharan Africa on an official state visit. Carter journeyed to Nigeria to meet with then head of state Olusegun Obasanjo in the midst of Nigeria's oil boom in the midst of recession and energy crises in the US. Since Carter's visit every US president--aside from Presidents Reagan and Trump (in his first year)--have visited sub-Saharan Africa during their presidency. President Bill Clinton became the first sitting US president to visit Ghana for a day in 1998, choosing the economically recovering country as his first African state visit and President George W. Bush followed suit with a three day visit in 2008.

Following the 2009 election the world sensed a great movement of hope, collaboration, and change with the election of President Barack Obama. It was at the height of this fervor that the first black American president visited Ghana in July of that year. In a highly anticipated visit, President Obama held official meetings with President John Atta Evans Mills and his associates. President Obama also became the first US President to deliver a speech to the Ghanaian Parliament and to visit a slave departure point when he visited Cape Coast Castle.

It would be four years until Obama again visited the African continent, however, there was great excitement at the time of his visit on the tails of the president's Nobel Peace Prize and election as the first president of the United States of African descent. The visit to Ghana in 2009 served as a precursor to President Obama's 2015 visit to his ancestral homeland in Kenya, where he met with President Uhuru Kenyatta. Kenyatta is the son of Jomo Kenyatta--Kenya's first president--who was a leader and contemporary of Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first president and a leader in the Pan-African movement for independence in the 1950s. Jomo Kenyatta was a political adversary of Barack Obama's father, Barack Obama, Sr. This was highlighted in the president's 1994 memoir, Dreams of My Father, and this meeting signified progress from past political turmoil.