Ben Carson is set to visit Africa this month. Here’s why

American Republican presidential candidate, Ben Carson, is set to arrive in Africa on December 27 to commence his foreign policy trip which he announced on Monday. The tour will include Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia and will last for a week. According to the 63-year-old retired neurosurgeon, US foreign policy in Africa is extremely important and witnessing foreign policy first hand makes a difference.

Carson’s reasons for choosing the three aforementioned countries include his ancestral roots in the Kenya-Tanzania region and the strategic importance of these countries. Also, he stated that he plans to visit Nigeria to assess the Boko Haram situation closely, as well as to visit the medical school named after him in the country. In Zambia, he plans on checking in on two former patients; the Banda twins previously joined at the head.

This announcement comes after the presidential candidate’s ‘surprise’ trip to Jordan last week, where he visited the Azraq refugee camp in the north of the country. Carson received criticism for not making his intentions public and many felt his trip to Jordan was part of a ‘desperate attempt’ to prove that he was versed in international affairs, after concerns were raised about his credibility in the field.

Carson’s foreign trips to combat perceived foreign policy inexperience is an old trick, as presidential candidates in the U.S. have made similar efforts before. Carson’s poll numbers have dropped by about seven percent and his campaign appears to be suffering, following some comments he made at the recent GOP debate.

Initially, the announcement of Ben Carson’s visit to Africa was met with considerable excitement, particularly in Kenya. But despite Carson’s claims of a deeper concern towards socio-economic activities in Africa, this upcoming trip seems like plain and simple politicking.

If his reasons for visiting Africa are any indication, the presidential aspirant is probably trying to tap into current President Barack Obama’s narrative of having African roots, to help him gain votes, especially considering that his ‘Black icon’ status is beginning to lose its flavor with a lot of Americans. Time will tell whether the plan works.

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