All these pictures were taken in Bamako, Mali, in July 2010. I had not been there since June 2008 and was astounded to see how widespread Barack Obama’s image became in the intervening two years. It’s worth noting that in none of my previous visits to Mali (or anywhere else in Africa for that matter) have I ever seen the name and likeness of a U.S. president commercialized in any way.

Images of African heads of state, on the other hand, frequently appear on posters, stickers, t-shirts, and wax-print cloth. In Nigeria some years back you could even get enamel cooking pots emblazoned with the faces of the ruling generals.

Click an image below to see a full-size photo. You can find similar bits of reportage from Time Magazine, Fulbright scholar Spencer Orey and artist Janet Goldner (who also has a book of photos entitled Obama in Mali).

The irony is that these items were probably all made in China. Funny how you never see Hu Jintao’s face on anything in Africa….

These Cleo-brand “Obama” cookies (made by SATOCI in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire) aren’t bad, though the name on the wrapper is the only link they have to Obama. The packages of 4 cookies sell for a mere 100 CFA francs (about 20 cents U.S.) each.

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