Editorial Says Kenyans Rejoiced for Nothing over Obama`s Victory

Villagers at an all-night party to watch the U.S. presidential election celebrate after a television station called the result in favor of President Barack Obama, in the village of Kogelo, home to Sarah Obama the step-grandmother of President Barack Obama, in western Kenya Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Editorial by Valentin Mbougueng: “President Obama: Kenyans Danced for Nothing”

For Barack Obama, Kenyans have danced three times. The first time was on the occasion of the American victory of the Senator from Illinois over the brave Hillary Clinton in the nomination race of the Democratic Party to the 2008 presidential election. The same year, in November, it was general rejoicings in Kogelo, the birthplace of President Obama`s father, at the announcement of his triumph after a presidential election that kept the world in suspense.

For the first time that a black acceded to the presidency of the Republic of the United States, fate wanted it to be a black born of a father of an African country, Kenya. The joy of Kenyans was thus understandable. Those people, seeing in the US President one of their own, celebrated, sang, danced and drank until dawn. And even until late the next day, the day after having been declared holiday throughout Kenya by President Mwai Kibaki, then in power.

Kenyans were far from imagining that the rest of the story would be less magical. What seemed unthinkable to them was transformed into a bitter and impassive reality: the American-Kenyan president, brother, cousin did not dare, during the four years of his first term, popping only once in his father`s village, where his grandmother, Mama Sarah Onyango, still lives.

Though the American president stood them up, Kenyans were still numerous to welcome the re-election of their brother, and cousin last November, at the White House. Once again, they sang and danced, until dawn. When the oval office started trumpeting a next tour by President Obama in Africa, his cousins on the Victoria Lake side, once again, began to swear that he could not snub the land of the ancestors, for a second time. Unfortunately, that is what happened.

Since 26 June, the grandson of Kogelo is on African tour, and Kenya is not included in his program. The culmination of the Kenyans` disappointment is the trip to neighboring Tanzania that is perceived as an affront to `his` relatives across the border. “It is as if President Obama had wanted to taunt us,” Kenyans complained in the country`s media, and via the Internet.

Kenyans are convinced that President Obama is putting political considerations, before the respect of traditions which would impose a minimum of respect toward his parents. In the absence of official statements on the subject, there are growing speculations: the president of the first world power which is protective of liberties and the law cannot be displayed alongside a head of state, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The trial in The Hague, which must determine if the current president, Uhuru Kenyatta, is guilty or not, of the crimes` charges leveled against him, was not yet held. Other analysts believe, instead, that in thus snubbing the earth of his paternal ancestors, President Obama is missing a historic opportunity to influence the future of democracy and good governance in Kenya. Ultimately, refusal by Obama to visit Kenya borders on arrogance, complained the Nairobi and Kogelo people.

In this village, which is not far from the Victoria Lake, relatives of President Obama are even more disappointed at the attitude of US president, that they are constantly sought by their compatriots who lend them powers that, obviously, they do not have. At a French colleague, a cousin of the president of the United States stressed about this:

“I am asked favors, I am asked money. Or so, I am told, “can you help my son? I would like him to go to the United States”. When you tell them you cannot help them, they think that you refuse voluntarily. Thus, the people of Kogelo, and along with them, all Kenyans, danced three times, four times, if we add the reception in his honor in 2006, when he was still only senator a(euro)” all this for nothing. Morality: for an African, dancing for an American president elected, regardless of the skin color, it is like hunting Tuareg rebels in Northern Mali. A waste of time.

(Description of Source: Abidjan Fraternite Matin in French — State-owned, government-controlled daily, the foremost and leading Ivorian daily, renowned for its high standards of professionalism)

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.

Obama visit shows Tanzania to replace Kenya as indispensable state – writer
BBC Monitoring Africa
June 27, 2013


Senegalese performers wait along the motorcade route as U.S. President Barack Obama arrives to meet with Senegal`s President Macky Sall at the Presidential Palace in Dakar, June 27, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Text of report by Makau Mutua headlined “Why Obama has skipped Kenya in his Africa tour” published by Kenyan privately-owned newspaper Daily Nation website on 22 June

Kenyans are deeply – psychologically – wounded that US President Barack Obama doesn`t give a damn about Kenya. But they are wrong – he`s actually very concerned about Kenya. That`s why he won`t stop in Nairobi – or Kogelo, his dad`s ancestral home – on his African jaunt next week.

He`ll snub Kenya but cozy up to Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa. He`ll “fly over Kogelo” on his way to Dar-es-Salaam. Ouch. Don`t let Kenyans tell you that doesn`t hurt. That snake-like hissing sound you hear is of Jubilee bloviators.

They are in complete denial – in la la land. But methinks their self-induced coma – more like a stupor – can`t last forever. Very soon reality will set in. I won`t say I told you so.

In his book, Dreams from My Father, Mr Obama professed great love and affection for Kenya. Some of the most gripping vignettes and tales come from his encounters with relatives and other folks in Nyanza. His insights on Kenya are tantalising and utterly seductive. It`s one of the best books I`ve read. Mr Obama last visited Kenya again as a US senator.

But – and this is huge – he`s clearly vowed never to set foot in Kenya as long as the state is superintended by men of “questionable character and integrity”. Don`t shoot me – just take the whipping and ponder the implications of Mr Obama`s snub. It matters a whole bunch. Don`t just accept it – and “move on”.

The twisted narrative of the 4 March elections is that the vote was anti-West. Some half-baked academics have argued that the long suffering “little people” of Kenya finally poked Goliath in the eye. By gosh – they did so by “electing” a duo indicted for crimes against humanity. They did so to prove that – get this – Kenya was a sovereign state. What`s more, they wanted to underscore that Kenyans won`t kowtow to “white men” in Europe and America.

One can imagine hordes of Kenyans baying for the white man`s blood. And shouting – never again shall we be colonised! Except this is a false narrative. None of it is true – that`s not how the election went down.

The 4 March election was nothing but a return to the primeval – the primordial tribal de minimis. That`s the true meaning of the so-called “tyranny of numbers”. Herd the tribe together and whip it up into an irrational frenzy using bogeymen to “thumb” your opponent. That was one half of Jubilee`s basic campaign strategy.

But we know – even if we are willfully ignorant – that`s why Kenya almost descended to civil war after the 2007 elections. It was the mayhem – murder, looting, pillage, and rape – that landed Jubilee leaders Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto at The Hague. Let me tell you something – this is what President Obama sees when Kenya crosses his mind. That image is seared in his memory.

My crystal ball tells me President Obama won`t come to Kenya so long as Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto are in charge. He refused to visit Kenya after former President Mwai Kibaki was re-elected. That`s because he viewed Mr Kibaki`s election as illegitimate.

Mr Obama seems viscerally – and intellectually – revolted by leaders who would use any means necessary to capture – and retain – power. Former assistant secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson warned that “choices have consequences”. Mr Obama is simply giving Mr Carson`s truism a nod.

He`s sending a message by visiting Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa. All three have set the pace for democracy in Africa. To him, Kenya must be worse than a laggard.

I`ve heard some Jubilee ideologues say Kenya doesn`t need America or Europe because China and the East will step into the breach. This is plain silly. You can`t swap one master for another and call that progress. Besides, Kenyans are “ideologically Western”. The pivot to China is a remote phantom.

The cultural barriers are too huge. India and Japan are easier cases, but they can`t quench the Eurocentric thirst of the Kenyan elite. Others in the Jubilee camp see Mr Obama as a “Luo” who favoured Cord [Coalition for Reforms and Democracy] leader Raila Odinga in the election. They feel that Mr Obama`s snub of Kenya is “tribal” and driven by pique that Mr Odinga lost. This is simply asinine. It`s ignorant and uninformed.

I call it psychological projection – where one “psychically expels” their negative thoughts onto others. They believe Mr Obama must be an irredeemable tribalist because they are themselves consumed by tribalism. It`s irrational and can`t explain Mr Kenyatta`s – and Kenya`s – isolation internationally.

It certainly can`t explain why British PM David Cameron denied Mr Kenyatta a photo-op in London. No democratic leader wants to be photographed with someone charged with crimes against humanity.

Former British PM Tony Blair is still haunted by those photos of him with the late Mu`ammar al-Qadhafi. Mr Obama doesn`t need similar pictures on his resume. Nor can Kenya go mano-a-mano with America. What gives – will the Jubilee regime adopt a “laager” mentality? There aren`t good options.

Mr Obama`s snub of Kenya adds salt to the wound of his visit to Tanzania. It`s not gone unnoticed that President Jakaya Kikwete has been received several times at the White House by Mr Obama. Tanzania is now poised to replace Kenya as the indispensable state in east Africa.

That`s the signal Mr Obama is sending by camping in Dar. Expect investors to skip over Kenya and flock to Tanzania. I warned that Tanzania would be the biggest beneficiary if Kenya “elected” ICC indictees. Mr Obama has proved me right.

Source: Daily Nation website, Nairobi, in English 22 Jun 13

© 2013 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Commentary says Museveni`s style reason for Obama snub of Uganda
Daily Monitor Online
June 28, 2013

Text of commentary by Charles Onyango-Obbo entitled “What Obama`s visit has to do with Nyerere – and Obote `ne` Amin” published by leading privately-owned Ugandan newspaper The Daily Monitor website on 26 June

After that “beep” visit by US President Barack Obama to Ghana in 2009, he is back in Africa and will linger a little bit this time. He will visit South Africa, Senegal, and Tanzania. A lot is being read in his itinerary, and the fact that he will not go to Kenya, the birthplace of his father. Or indeed that he won`t visit Uganda, which in 1998 was nearly a “mandatory” stop for President Bill Clinton, and in 2003 for President George Bush (Jr).

Indeed, the fact that both Obama (and former president Bush Jr. will be in Tanzania), has led to tongues wagging that Dar es Salaam has usurped the diplomatic role Kampala used to play in the sub-region between 1990 and 2003.

Yes, these visits tell us something about how the US sees its interests on the continent. They also suggest something about the diplomatic value of the host country. But there is more. With this Obama trip, there are four African countries that all US presidents since Clinton will have visited – Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania.

Immediately, one can see that these countries have a few things in common.

First, they are all today multiparty democracies. Secondly, they have presidential term limits. Thirdly, they are corrupt yes, but certainly not among the worst in Africa. By and large, at least Ghana and Senegal, hold fairly free elections in which the opposition has a fairly good shot at winning.

But I think what Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania had were broadminded, nationalist, and inspirational leaders. Except in the case of Nelson Mandela, they were not enthusiastic and natural democrats. But they were great men; men of letters, and of ideas.

Leopold Senghor, was Senegal`s founding father, and gave us Negritude, the ideology of solidarity around a common black entity. He was a writer, wore fine suits, spoke better French than some of the best French speakers. Despite his negritude, Senghor couldn`t bring himself to marry a locally-bred girl. He found himself a white French wife, in that moment of contradiction that most great men suffer. He united his country, and imbued it with a sense of pride.

And then Ghana gave us Kwame Nkrumah, also the founding father. An iron-fisted leader and incompetent administrator, Nkrumah was more combative than Senghor. We owe the political philosophy of Pan-Africanism to this nevertheless great son of Africa. Pan-Africanism remains alive today, in the idea that the destiny of all African peoples is interconnected, and that all people of African descent all over the world are brothers and sisters for whom Africa is still home.

That because we are one, we must unite Africa into a massive single African village. Well, at least something along those lines. Nkrumah`s rule ended badly, he was overthrown in a coup.

Nkrumah`s ideas, however, still inspire many oppressed people, inside and outside Africa.

And then closer home, was Tanzania`s founding father Mwalimu (teacher) Julius Nyerere, perhaps one of the most lovable and fair-minded rulers to occupy an African State House. Not a liberal democrat, he also ruled Tanzania as a one-party state, but he wore gloves. He worked overtime to unite the country, and banish the demons of tribalism – and perhaps succeeded more than any other African leader. He was dedicated to the cause of African liberation, was a formidable intellectual, and like Senghor and Kwame, a writer of some note. To him we owe Ujaama – a collectivist Ubuntu socialism.

And then, there was the now very sick 94-year-old Nelson Mandela. We shall never know what miracle potion he drank while in 27 years of detention, but whatever it is when he came out and led South Africa to democracy, he was in the chair for one term and called it quits. I suspect that Mandela is actually an alien from another planet.

He overcame the desire to punish his tormentors, and the oppressors of black South Africans, and instead broke bread with them. And so it becomes clearer what Senghor, Nkrumah, Nyerere, and Mandela did. They left that elusive thing called a “legacy”. That act of foresight, sacrifice, hard headedness and, even, madness that with time and through turbulent seasons, helps a country find its place in the world, and enables its citizens shape their obligations to the motherland.

Sometimes countries like Uganda that are not moulded by similar forces can still flourish and shine, as Uganda did between 1990 and 2003. But without the foundation of legacy, soon it fades away.

Without Nyerere, Obama wouldn`t be coming to Tanzania this week. And today he might also have been in Kampala, if President Yoweri Museveni had not given up on working to differentiate himself from Milton Obote and Field Marshal Idi Amin.

(Description of Source: Kampala Daily Monitor Online in English — Website of the independent daily owned by the Kenya-based Nation Media Group; URL: http://www.monitor.co.ug/)

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.

Researcher Says President Obama`s Visit in Africa `Business Trip`
June 27, 2013

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Senegal`s President Macky Sall (R) at the Presidential Palace in Dakar, June 27, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Interview by Caroline Pare with Martin Michelot, researcher at the German Marshall Fund Paris, on 26 June; place not given: “Martin Michelot on RFI– `Obama`s Visit in Africa Is a `BusinessTrip`” — First paragraph in italics is introduction by RFI.

The US President is landing on 26 June afternoon in Dakar, Senegal, for the first lap of an African tour that is expected to last for a week, with the compulsory South African lap in a very special context when Nelson Mandela seems in the evening of his life. Final stage: Tanzania. Martin Michelot, researcher at the German Marshal Fund in Paris, responds to the questions of RFI.

(RFI) A week on the African continent, is this unprecedented for Barack Obama except his short visit in July 2009 in Ghana?

(Michelot) It is a first experience with an extremely symbolic significance when we consider Barack Obama who was celebrated as the first African President whose father is a Kenyan native. Obviously, all of Barack Obama`s travels in Africa have a sentimental significance and also a public significance that is extremely important and which he is quite aware of. But we should also avoid getting into too sentimental matters. Barack Obama remains the President of the world first power. He has come to meet African powers and must quite mind for his trip to keep this presidential dimension.

(RFI) Well, why choosing this moment to reposition Africa at the core of the US diplomatic action?

(Michelot) Just because Africa is a territory that can be currently considered as being in a competition. We understand that Europeans and Americans used to consider Africa as the natural territory for their influence. But now, with the strong growth of economy in Barack Obama`s foreign policy and China, India, or Brazil`s competition for African natural resources, Africa has re-emerged as the central concern of Barack Obama. It is therefore quite normal for him to visit the friendly countries, the ally countries, and those on which he can rely to direct Africa in the appropriate direction.

(RFI) Diplomatic dimension, economic dimension of course with regard to raw materials. But even though we have already tackled that, there will compulsorily be symbols like, to begin with, the Goree Island in Senegal?

(Michelot) Yes, absolutely. Barack Obama`s visits in Africa are always full of symbols. But this is also something that is quite observed in Europe. We should not rely on symbols too much. We should also come up to the fact that Barack Obama`s visit in Africa has an economic aspect that is absolutely instrumental for the preservation of the American power. And while making this visit in Africa, this is actually the first thing in his mind.

(RFI) Especially on the Tanzanian lap, which is the last step of the visit?

(Michelot) Tanzania, where he will almost be in the same time as George W. Bush, his predecessor. This lap has very strong geopolitical involvements. The country is located in the Horn of Africa, and has therefore a very important regional influence. Barack Obamaa(euro)(TM)s visit in Tanzania is obviously not by chance and mostly when we consider the fact that he has decided, to the great displeasure of Kenyans, not to return to Kenya, we can quite understand that Barack Obamaa(euro)(TM)s visit is carried out with discussions matters that, we will see, will be very complex and will bear many consequences for the future.

(RFI) Kenya, his fathera(euro)(TM)s native land?

(Michelot) Kenya is his fathera(euro)(TM)s native land. There is a town called Obama in Kenya.

(RFI) A Are some of his family members still living there?

(Michelot) Absolutely, and there is a very strong expectation from the Kenyan population. But one more time, I do want to emphasize on the fact that Barack Obama, at this very moment, owing to the very complex situation in term of domestic policy, cannot allow himself to indulge in — let us say — sentimental considerations. For Barack Obama, it is actually business first.

(RFI) After all, we cannot talk about Barack Obama`s agenda without also tackling what is currently going on in South Africa. Such a diplomatic agenda in such an emotional context is delicate?

(Michelot) It is true that the possibility, even tiny, to see Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela side by side would carry an extremely strong symbol. And Barack Obama should also be very cautious like when he met Aun San Suu Kyi. It is true that meeting great figure always carries some risks, and when we consider the political situation in the US, where each of his gestures and each of his trips are criticized, Barack Obama will be placed under the banner of measure.

(RFI) What we rightly notice are those laps that are a kind of business trip, as you have said, for the American President. By contrast, (we also notice) a lack of laps that would be focused on security issues. What about the case of Nigeria?

(Michelot) Yes, and this is a new conception of the US foreign policy: they place a number of responsibilities on the Europeans. They call on the European to bear the responsibilities that were previously theirs. They want the Europeans to take responsibilities in the immediate neighborhood of Europe. This is illustrated by the fact that France has been able to conduct the Serval Operation. It was also illustrated by the military operation in Mali. There is currently a clearer a division of responsibilities within the transatlantic relationship. And this is the reason why Barack Obama`s visit is mostly economically focused.

(Description of Source: Paris rfi.fr in French — website of the government-owned Radio France Internationale, under the management of the Ministry of Culture, aimed at an international audience; root URL, www.rfi.fr/)

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.

Editorial Criticizes Africans for Putting All Hopes on President Obama
Fraternite Matin
June 26, 2013

Senegalese women watch as U.S. President Barack Obama`s motorcade drives past on his way to meet with Senegal`s President Macky Sall at the Presidential Palace in Dakar, June 27, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Editorial by Venance Konan: “President Obama and his Brethren”

In short, he was expected to solve all the problems we could not solve ourselves. That is how we are. We still hope that our relatives, who successfully made it outside, will bring lots of gifts when they visit us, and that, in the aftermath, they will solve all our problems before they leave.

This is so deeply rooted in our minds that many Africans living in Europe or America feel they are obliged to work like madmen, neglecting their own lives and those of their children, in order to send money to relatives at home, who often do not provide much effort to save.

How many workers at home are not solicited all day by people with whom they have only a vague relationship? President Obama, in our sub-conscience, is the relative who succeeded in the United States, the most powerful and richest country in the world, to the point of becoming president, and who, thereby, cannot and should not let us down.

We know that he is, first and foremost, the President of Americans, but his mixed blood and especially his father`s Kenyan origins which do not date centuries back necessarily make him our relative, our brother. And for this reason, he should come and see us, at least once per year, with arms full of gifts. This is why we are a bit disappointed, and that his new visit does not raise as much enthusiasm as the first.

And yet, when he came to Accra, he told us everything. Let us read, once again, the speech he delivered on that occasion: “and here is what you need to know: the world will be what you make of it. You can empower your leaders and build institutions that serve the people. You can serve your communities and use your power and your knowledge to create new wealth, as well as new connections with the world. You can subdue the disease, put an end to conflicts and make change at the grassroots level. You can do it all. Yes, you can, because in this moment, history is on. But these things can only be achieved if you claim responsibility for your future. It will not be easy. This will require time and effort. Suffering and setbacks will lie on the way. But I can promise you this: America will accompany you all along the way, as a partner, as a friend. However, progress will come from nowhere else. It must arise from the decisions that you will take the steps that you take and the hope you will nurture in your heart.”

President Obama had said that America would accompany us all along the way. We would have liked America to carry us on the back. He said that it would not be easy. We love that which is easy. He said this would require time and effort. We do not like making effort and we want everything immediately.

He asked us to seize the responsibility of our future. This is whence the misunderstanding between him and us. So, if President Obama comes to Dakar, in order to repeat the same things, without bringing the gifts along, we will no more speak to him, and will reject him as a brother.

(Description of Source: Abidjan Fraternite Matin in French — State-owned, government-controlled daily, the foremost and leading Ivorian daily, renowned for its high standards of professionalism)

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.


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