July 13th, 2009
11:59 PM ET

Interviewing President Obama in Ghana

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/13/art.ac.obama.ghana.jpg caption="Anderson Cooper and President Obama walking around Cape Coast Castle."]

Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360° Anchor

Interviewing the President is always a difficult prospect. There are so many questions you want to ask, but you only have a limited amount of time.

We had been told we might get about 15 to 20 minutes sitting down with the President and then perhaps 10 minutes walking around Cape Coast Castle – a whitewashed fort through which enslaved Africans were sent to the New World.

We arrived in Ghana last week, one day before the President arrived with his family. We spent the day shooting a story about African Americans who visit Ghana to retrace their roots, and we also spent an hour or so walking through the Castle with members of the President's advance team.

It is a remarkable thing to see how much effort and organization goes into the President's movements. The Castle and the nearby hotel were full of secret service, embassy personnel, White House advance personnel, military backup and I'm sure more from other agencies as well.

Everything is timed to the minute: When the President will arrive, where he will go, etc. I read something on Drudgereport that said the crowds were not enthusiastic for the President's trip. I'm not sure where that impression came from.


July 13th, 2009
05:59 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Pres. Obama, slavery, and that “wise Latina”

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/13/art.ac.obama.ghana.jpg caption="Anderson Cooper and President Obama walking around Cape Coast Castle."]

Charly Feldman
AC360° Intern

Tonight on 360°, watch Anderson’s exclusive interview with President Obama in Ghana. They discuss everything from the economy to Afghanistan, the U.S. military’s “Don’t ask don’t tell” for gay service members and of course U.S. policy towards Africa.

We’ll take you on a tour of the dungeons of Cape Coast Castle with President Obama, to see where kidnapped Ghanaians awaited the horrifying boat rides to America just a couple of centuries ago. Greed and the slave trade triangle – all this and more on the program tonight.

But slavery isn’t just a thing of the past. Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s joins us from Haiti with a 360° dispatch on modern day slavery. It’s hard to imagine, but children as young as four years old are caught up in this vicious cycle. We’re digging deeper.

Plus, Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings began today at Capitol Hill, as the Senate Judiciary Committee discusses her abilities as a potential Supreme Court judge. From accusations of judicial activism to her controversial comment about being a “wise Latina”, Candy Crowley brings you the raw politics tonight, with senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Also, Randi Kaye joins us live from L.A. with the latest details on Michael Jackson’s death. His sister LaToya is speaking out. We’ll have her controversial account of what she believes happened to Michael. Was he murdered? Or, as Joe Jackson now suggests did the prospects of his London concerts burn him out? Plus, we’re following the money trail. Tune in to 360° for the answer to these questions.

Join us at 10pm ET for all this and much more! See you then.

July 13th, 2009
02:42 PM ET

Photo gallery: Anderson in Ghana

Program Note: The first African-American President visited Ghana this past week and Anderson Cooper tagged along for the journey. Here are a few snapshots from the trip. For more on the President's historic visit, tune in to AC360° tonight 10p ET.


Anderson shooting a segment in Ghana.


July 13th, 2009
02:42 PM ET

Obama's visit – and what it meant to Ghanaians

Chakun, Ghana had the highest rate of Guinea worm cases in its district before it got a new borehole. The villagers are now notably stronger and healthier that they have access to clean water.

People fetching water from a dirty pond in Kpalang village, Ghana. The pond is the only source of water for this remote farming village of 600 people.

Auckhinleck Adow
Associate director, World Vision in Ghana

There was palpable excitement here in Ghana as President Obama visited this past weekend. He highlighted our nation's progress, most recently our peaceful, democratic election. Accra is still abuzz and my colleagues and neighbors are talking about it constantly.

Born and raised in Ghana, I remember the awe I felt as a child when Queen Elizabeth II visited in 1961. Now, my 13-year-old daughter had the chance to see the first African-American president visit her nation, and her excitement makes me proud of the progress our country has made. For example, Ghana is the only sub-Saharan African country on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of cutting hunger in half by 2015.

As I reflect this week on the visit, I wonder what windows of opportunity it offers for the nearly half of Ghanaians surviving on less than US $1 a day. And amidst President Obama’s focus on Ghana’s democratic progress and good governance, it could easily be forgotten that there are still so many Ghanaians struggling to survive.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Ghana • Global 360° • President Barack Obama
July 13th, 2009
01:48 PM ET

A beacon of hope in Sub Saharan Africa

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/africa/07/11/obama.ghana/art.obamaghanacrowd.gi.jpg caption="Local dignitaries greet President Obama when he arrives in Ghana on Friday."]

Josh Ruxin
Founder and Director, The Access Project
Assistant Professor in Public Heath, Columbia University

There was a democratic buzz in the air the last time I traveled to Ghana. Presidential elections were under way, and I was lucky to be traveling with an aspiring candidate, Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, the country’s minister of finance in the eighties and early-nineties. Everywhere we traveled, Ghanaians were debating the challenges facing their nation and reveling in their increasingly vibrant and stable democracy.

That strong embrace of democratic ideals has not been lost on the Obama administration. The U.S. President’s visit to Ghana this past weekend was a symbolic move that now resonates across the continent. Rather than giving in to the temptation of having a homecoming in Kenya, Obama chose the West African nation as his first stop. It’s a sign of smart continental politics with a clear message: this administration values democratic values above all else.

During the time I spent in Ghana, I could see the national growth that was occurring each and every day. The country looks and feels as if it’s booming. Restaurants and hotels are springing up and economic growth is steady. Although it is unlikely that the President took it in, Ghana also has a thriving club scene complete with some of the continent’s best music.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Ghana • Pres. Obama African Journey
July 13th, 2009
01:01 PM ET

'Carry boxes' – and more lessons I learned in West Africa

Editor’s Note: President Obama made his first visit to Sub Saharan Africa as President this past weekend. He and his family visited Ghana where the president gave a wide-ranging address to the parliament of Ghana, a western African nation seen as a model of democracy and growth for the rest of the continent. Obama’s visit prompted AC360° contributor Chris Guillebeau, to reflect on his four years working in the region.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/12/art.ghana.boats.jpg caption="Boats along the shore of Ghana's coast."]

Chris Guillebeau
AC360° Contributor

West Africa is the kind of place that is largely unknown to most people who haven't made a deliberate effort to study it. Travel writers struggle to describe the region without the clichéd contrasts: hope, despair, joy, sorrow. That's what you get when you combine a poverty-stricken area with some of the world’s happiest people.

Many people ask how they can get started in international development work. My answer: carry boxes.

Depressed after 9/11, I surfed the internet looking for volunteer jobs as far away from America as possible. I found one in a medical charity that needed a warehouse manager, which turned out to be a euphemism for box-carrier. Technically I managed a slew of donated goods for refugee camps and nurses, but mostly I shuffled boxes back and forth in a Land Rover every day.

No matter. It was the best job ever. I went to West Africa in 2002 with a two-year volunteer commitment. Before the end of the first year, I ended up running more than the warehouse. The organization needed a Programs Director to oversee the field work and coordinate relationships with host governments throughout the region. “Pick me,” I said, and for some reason they did.


July 11th, 2009
11:59 PM ET

Anderson in Ghana: Obama and spider bites

Program Note: Watch Anderson's interview with President Obama on AC360° on Monday at 10 p.m. ET.

Anderson was bitten by something during the night. Here's his picture for proof.

Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360° Anchor

@andersoncooper: just interviewed the President. We walked around Cape Coast Castle with him, it's a former dungeon for slaves heading to America.

@andersoncooper: we walked through the "door of no return," the portal thru which slaves were sent to the New World. Talked about the ...

@andersoncooper: ....impact of it on him and his family. Outside hundreds have gathered to get a glimpse of Obama....

@andersoncooper: playing endlessly, everywhere, is a ghana hi-life song "Bar-ack, Bar-ack. Bar-ack O-Bama." It's by a band "Black Rasta"..

@andersoncooper: ..its one of those songs that's catchy at first, but gradually drives you insane..like 99 Luftballoons. Remember that one?

@andersoncooper: forgot to mention. During the night I got bitten by something on my left eyelid.. Maybe a spider. When I awoke, my eyelid was ....

@andersoncooper: my eyelid had swollen nearly shut. Not the kind of thing you want to have happen before interviewing the President...

@andersoncooper: In my mind I looked like Sylvester Stallone in "Rocky". In reality i looked more like Mathew Broderick in the movie "Election."

@andersoncooper: luckily, by the time the President arrived it had gone down significantly. "Not so bad," he said to me as he sat down.

@andersoncooper: now its nearly back to normal..still a little swollen. I took a picture for the ac360.com blog. I'm about to go to bed.

@andersoncooper: I think I'm going to sleep with the lights on.

Follow all of Anderson's twitter updates @andersoncooper.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Anderson Cooper • Ghana
July 10th, 2009
11:45 PM ET

Photo Gallery: The Cape Coast Castle in Ghana

Program Note: President Obama makes his first official trip to Ghana today. He is the first African-American President to visit the African continent. Anderson sits down with President in Ghana to talk about the significance of his trip and the President's own African history. Tune in tonight for more from Anderson next week for the interview. AC360°, 10 p.m. ET.

Charlie Moore
AC360° Senior Broadcast Producer

These pictures were taken at the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, which was used in the trans-Atlantic slave as the final departure point for slaves bound for the western hemisphere. Thousands of slaves were held in the dungeons of the castle before being transferred to boats. More on the slave trade next week during our special, "President Obama's African Journey."

The courtyard of the Cape Coast Castle.

The "door of no return." Slaves would exit this door and board ships bound for the western hemisphere.


Post by:
Filed under: Africa • Anderson Cooper • Charlie Moore • Ghana • Global 360°
July 10th, 2009
11:38 PM ET

Anderson tweets from Ghana

Editor's Note: Anderson is in Ghana today where he will meet up with President Obama for an exclusive interview. He is talking to people in Ghana about what they think of the significance of the first African-American president to visit the West African country. And we're also looking into the history of the African slave trade routes. Anderson visited the Cape Coast Castle where many slaves were transferred to ships bound for the Western hemisphere.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/10/art.ghana.cape.castle.door.jpg caption="The 'door of no return' at the Cape Coast Castle. Slaves would exit this door and board ships bound for the western hemisphere."]

Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360° Anchor

From ac: just arrived in ghana. A lot of excitement here about Obama's trip. Everyone wants to see him. I'll be tweeting all weekend.

From ac: ghana is cool. Accra, the capitol is bustling with energy. Posters welcoming Obama are everywhere. It's great to be back in africa.

Follow Anderson's twitter updates here @andersoncooper

Filed under: 360° Radar • Anderson Cooper • Ghana
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