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Oct 22

Written by: Diana West
Wednesday, October 22, 2008 12:11 PM 

The story of Colin Powell's week wasn't his (reptilian) endorsement of Barack Obama, it was his debut as a rocker of conscience with Nigerian performer Olu Maintain, whom Powell accompanied in singing "Yahoozee" at Royal Albert Hall.

(This is a true story.)

The BBC reports:

Mr Powell told the audience his own black identity mattered as much as ever and that Africa, with hard work and foreign investment, could prosper like Asia and Eastern Europe.

"I stand before you tonight as an African-American," Mr Powell said.

"Many people have said to me you became secretary of state of the USA, is it still necessary to say that you are an African-American or that you are black, and I say, yes, so that we can remind our children.

"It took a lot of people struggling to bring me to this point in history. I didn't just drop out of the sky, people came from my continent in chains."

How fortunate for Colin, no? Hasn't he reaped unimaginable benefits from his ancestors' suffering and millions killed in the Civil War? (Didn't Keith Richburg write a brave book about this very topic?) Powell is right; he didn't just drop out of the sky. He came up through the ranks of the US military and was elevated to the heights of military and civilian power by Republican presidents....

But back to Powell:

A lot of wrongs had been done to Africa by Western powers faced with "an iron curtain and a bamboo curtain", he said in an apparent reference to the USSR and communist China.

These barriers had fallen, he argued.

"Asia is expanding, it created jobs for people, and Eastern Europeans are doing the same... it's now Africa's turn."

He proceeded to dance and sing the Nigerian smash hit, sung in Yoruba and pidgin by Olu Maintain, about people spending money they made from US fraud victims.

I repeat: This is a true story.

Of course, this isn't the first time ol' Colin seems to have missed the point. As Claudia Rosett makes clear in "General Blind Spots," Powell has a history of missing what's going on right in front of him--on a music stage, or a world stage.

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