The Daily Maverick's J. BROOKS SPECTOR sat down with US Ambassador Patrick Gaspard for a wide-ranging conversation recently, just prior to the ambassador's return to Washington to participate in the US - African Leaders Summit in early August.
We are sitting on the sunlight veranda of a Johannesburg restaurant. Ambassador Patrick Gaspard is sipping lemon tea, trying to hold back a nasty winter head cold, courtesy of Johannesburg's recent bout of chilly weather, as he contemplates a transatlantic trip back to the US to take part in the upcoming US - Africa Leaders Summit, 4-6 August, in Washington. Barack Obama's administration has scheduled this gathering as part of an effort to build stronger ties between the US and this continent as "Africa: the hopeless continent" has come to be replaced by the more positive trope, "Africa Rising", over the past several years.
Nevertheless, Gaspard settles in for a convivial conversation about both US policy and himself. Throughout this conversation he avoids falling back into the usual Washington policy-speak so common among officials speaking for attribution.
Gaspard has a rather atypical background for an ambassador. He originally wanted to be a student of comparative literature, he wrote - and still writes...