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Ilhan Omar Is Not Mama Africa

ArticlesIlhan Omar Is Not Mama Africa

1 Feb 2023 – Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is making a martyr of Somali American Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. Prior to the Republicans’ slim victory in the House, he promised to remove her from the House Foreign Relations Committee for being “anti-Semitic” and “anti-American.” As he struggles to keep Republicans in line for a vote on whether she stays or goes, Ilhan takes the 1000% predictable stance that he is persecuting her for being a Muslim, a woman, and an African immigrant.

Not only that, she claims to be the voice of the entire African continent on the House subcommittee on Africa. On January 26 she tweeted:

Ilhan Omar  @IlhanMN

As the only African born, not being on the Africa subcommittee is not just an elimination of a unique voice but an elimination of all the voices that have never been heard on a committee on the continent.

It’s racist, xenophobic and discriminatory.

Mama Africa! The only African born on the Africa committee! Sister of Mandela, Sankara, Nkrumah, and Miriam Makeba! Voice of all the African voices that have never been heard!

This isn’t the first time Ilhan has wrapped herself in kente cloth and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but nothing could be further from the truth, as was witnessed by the slew of African responses. Most came from the region she hails from, the Horn of Africa, many from her native Somalia, and from the diaspora. Here are some, but far from all of them:

Hashi, MD ⚖ ✍ @SomPundit Jan 26

Replying to @IlhanMN

Good riddance! You cost more harm to Africa in your first term than any other time. Disrespecting sovereignty and political independence of African countries. Your carrot vs stick comments on Somalia 🇸🇴 was nauseating. You wasted a huge platform coz it got to you easily.

Hodo Mure  @HodoMure Jan 26

Replying to @SomPundit and @IlhanMN

Omg, I remember when she tried to bring the entire might of the American empire to bully Somalia and suggested the carrot and stick analogy. Also to add insult to injury, she voted against debt relief for Somalia, likely Congress passed the bill anyway bc Republicans supported it.

🇸🇴 🇪🇹 🇪🇷 The HOA Warrior  @AmbWarsame Jan 26

Replying to @IlhanMN

Thanks🙏 @SpeakerMcCarthy On behalf of #HOA 🇺🇸 Community. We thank you, great decision— we say #Nomore TPLF @IlhanMN She Spread conspiracy theory @SNAForce training in Eritrea. Voted against debt relief for Somalia. Played crucial role in coup d’état & personal attacked @M_Farmaajo

Ethio-American Development Council (EADC)  @EA_DevCouncil Jan 26

Replying to @IlhanMN

@SpeakerMcCarthy is right to kick Ilhan Omar off the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Part of the reason for the US foreign affairs crises is @Ilhan’s warmongering, support to extremist grps & undue interference in Africa. Africa is better off w/out you.

Berhanemeskel Nega  @berhanenega Jan 26

Replying to @IlhanMN

Being an African born won’t entitle you to sit on the African subcommittee nor is it a license for promoting a reckless & divisive African policy, as you did. Africa deserves better & @SpeakerMcCarthy did the right thing in removing you from the Africa subcommittee.

Bizuwork Negussie  @BizuNegussie Jan 26

Replying to @IlhanMN

No, you can’t use the race card here. It’s not because of your race you are removed, it is because you are toxic. We Africans applaud (however twisted McCarthy’s motives are) the decision to remove you from the committee. You backed a terror group against the people of Ethiopia.

Saba: She/Her  @Saba88664060 Jan 26

Replying to @IlhanMN

You don’t represent Africa. You are an African problem. Shut up and find another job.

Darrell B. Harrison  @D_B_Harrison Jan 26

Replying to @IlhanMN

Because yours is the lone voice speaking on behalf of more than 1.2B Africans, right? I’m 51 percent Nigerian. Does that mean I should put myself out there as a “unique voice” for all Nigerians living on that continent? You were elected not selected. Learn the difference.

Sheba – PushStart 🇪🇹🇪🇷🇺🇸 @ShebaPushStart Jan 27

Replying to @IlhanMN

You don’t represent us and it’s just fine with us.

🇪🇹🇨🇦 DefendEthiopia  @iDefendEthiopia Jan 27

Replying to @IlhanMN

You are a spoiler of #African causes. You don’t have the moral capacity or commitment to talk about Africa. NO WAY!


Ere91@Eritrea  @andemaria2 Jan 28

Replying to @IlhanMN

You are so good at the arts of blackmailing, don’t play that card on our behalf, the Africans.

Jean-Claude Maswana  @JCMaswana Jan 28

Replying to @IlhanMN

Knowledge/interest about Africa’s issues isn’t a DNA matter. How often did you raise tragedies such as young people dying in Mediterranean Sea in attempt to escape bad leadership in Africa or the 20-year long tragedy happening in the #DRC?

Pls, argue, don’t misuse the race card.

Solomon( ሰሎሞን  @Solomon73155195 Jan 28

Replying to @IlhanMN

For me the racist Joseph Borrell is better than @llhan Omar when it comes to African issues!

Abdillahi M. Ali  @DiasporaCorner Jan 28

Replying to @IlhanMN

Even your fellow Somali Americans believe you shouldn’t be on that committee because they realized you won’t represent them all, let alone other Africans!

#SayNoMore 🇪🇹🇪🇷🇿🇦🇸🇸🇰🇪🇩🇯🇷🇺🇨🇳🇹🇷 @Oneluv_Ethiopia

Replying to @IlhanMN

The best action that @SpeakerMcCarthy has taken so far is removing you from the foreign committee. You harm African interest more than any other person in Congress. As an African I’m extremely happy that you have been removed.

Dahir .O. Dubow  @DahirODubow Jan 29

Replying to @IlhanMN

Your undisciplined soul needs to rest and try to reflect on the harm you did to the said continent, that is Africa.

Bealem Bazezew  @bezealer Jan 28

Replying to


You have already made enough damage to US- Africa relations. Give us a little break!!

Young Joseph #followerofJesus #Academic  @eljayee2003 Jan 28

Replying to @IlhanMN

I live in the motherland (Africa); She should never be allowed anywhere near any committee, period!

Abiy  @Doctor_Abiy Jan 28

Replying to @IlhanMN

Africa does not want you.

#Africa does not like you.

Africa does not trust you.

Dejazmach ወልዴዬስ  @wolde_yihun Jan 28

Replying to @IlhanMN

@SpeakerMcCarthy, especially this one is justice.👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽

H Alemu  @h_alemu Jan 28

Replying to @IlhanMN

You never spoke for Africans anyway so it’s not that great of a loss.

Don’t kid yourself.

Tsedi 💚💛❤️✊🏿 @Tsedeniya11 Jan 30

Replying to @IlhanMN

You don’t represent us #Africans at all! Especially we the people of the Horn are sick and tired of you. If all these replies don’t help you understand how we #Africans don’t care for you not sure what will. ✌🏿

Of course there were plenty of “racist, xenophobic, and discriminatory” responses. A number of people joined Kevin McCarthy in calling her an anti-Semite and an anti-American American, even a “Jew-hater.” Several suggested she go back to Africa. There’s no denying this is a racist, xenophobic, stupid country.

However, I read the entire thread response to Ilhan Omar’s January 26 persecution tweet and couldn’t find a single response from an African person saying that she spoke for them, much less for all of Africa. I don’t want to claim that there weren’t any eventually because Twitter threads can go on for days, weeks, months, even years, but the initial responses were all African and all negative, even before the racists, xenophobes, and Zionists chimed in.

Several of those who responded have been quoted or interviewed in Black Agenda Report, including Congolese economist Jean-Claude Maswana, whom I have spoken to about the impact of sanctions and about the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Others included Nebiyu Asfaw of the Ethiopian American Development Council, whom I spoke to about violence near Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, a huge achievement with the potential to free all Ethiopia from electricity poverty, one of the greatest challenges that Africa needs to overcome.

Ilhan and the Dems campaign to save her spot

The Democratic Party renewed their choice of Ilhan Omar for the Foreign Relations Committee with fanfare on January 30 . The next day, her office issued a press release announcing a new U.S.-Africa Policy Working Group. This was more than arguably a continuation of her campaign to save her seat as Mama Africa, the “unique voice,” as she tweeted, representing “all the voices that have never been heard on a committee on the continent.”

She does hit a few politically correct notes. “For far too long, the United States has treated Africa as a threat that needed to be contained, a series of fires that needed to be put out, or a junior partner that needed to be disciplined.” But she then goes on to say, “The U.S.-Africa Policy Working Group will be a venue for the promotion of American values and American interests in our dealings with our African partners.” Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose in the twilight of the American empire.

Ilhan promised particular action on Ethiopia and DRC, where her actions have already been malevolent. During the devastating two-year Ethiopian civil war that ended in December, she supported the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a longtime US puppet, who declared war on Ethiopia. Like all the rest of the Western world, she excoriated Ethiopia’s ally, Eritrea, “the Cuba of Africa.”

With regard to her native Somalia, she helped engineer defeat of the popular President Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed, aka Farmaajo, voted against debt relief, and called for the “carrot and stick” coercion she claims to oppose in this latest press release. Her overall impact in the Horn has been in line with the US goal of undermining the Tripartite Agreement for regional cooperation between Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia, which had been cause for great hope in the region in 2018, before the TPLF started the war that raged for the next two years, draining that nation’s resources and Eritrea’s.

With regard to Rwanda and DRC, she took a state-sponsored junket to Rwanda, then served as an advocate for the Kagame regime despite its 27 years of war crimes and plunder in DRC and its brutal repression of the Rwandan people.

On January 26, the very same day that Ilhan tweeted her claim to be the voice of the voiceless continent, she also tweeted a photo of herself with AFRICOM’s new commander and said, “It was a pleasure to talk with General Michael E. Langley, the sixth commander of the U.S. Africa Command about counterterrorism and diplomacy.” Langley is AFRICOM’s second Black commander.

Mama Africa indeed. Kevin McCarthy’s motives for ousting Ilhan from Foreign Affairs are twisted, as Bizuwork Negussie tweeted, but Africans can hardly be blamed for applauding and wishing him well in that much at least.


Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She attended Stanford University and is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. In 2014 she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at @AnnGarrisonann@kpfa.org, ann@anngarrison.com.

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