By KWAMCHETSI MAKOKHA
US President Barack Obama is no friend of Kenya. Consider that when no other country ever declared a public holiday to celebrate his election victory in 2008, Kenya did. The Senegalese had no idea and the Tanzanians and South Africans were green with envy.
Consider also that when President Obama needed good genes to get into Harvard Law School, a Kenyan contributed 50 per cent. When Mr Obama needed pictures of himself carrying cassava to the market to get through a bruising campaign, Kenya obliged.
In fact, Kenya provided the story of his African ancestry — complete with the heroic role his grandfather played in the Mau Mau struggle for independence. He even visited the country as a junior senator for Illinois, and was welcomed with open arms.
Now that he is President, Kenya is not good enough to visit.
The excuse for his refusal is laughable. Fears of being photographed at State House in the company of the country’s two leaders who face crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court have apparently forced him to skirt his father’s homeland as if it were a leper colony.
Did the country not conduct peaceful elections this year that the Supreme Court passed as the cleanest in the country’s history? He has permitted a little domestic quarrel about power to prevent him from taking a mere photograph with the legitimate leadership of Kenya just because of claims that 1,133 people died and 600,000 others were displaced as a result of their combined genius.
Has Kenya not recovered from the violence that nearly tore the country apart in 2008, passing a modern and progressive Constitution?
Only this year, Mr Obama pretended to care for Kenya by promising that those willing to walk the path of progress would “continue to have a strong friend and partner in the United States of America”.
Instead of holding up Kenya as a beacon of democracy and prosperity that has survived 50 years of independence, Mr Obama has gone looking for examples in Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa. He should know that Kenya wrote the encyclopaedia of African democracy.
It is incongruous that Mr Obama would want to discuss good governance with toddlers in African democracy. Anyone who needs a manual on how to run elections needs to look no further than Kenya.
Anyone who is keen on creating a youthful leadership on the backbone of integrity need not look further than Nairobi. Mr Obama wanted to discuss political parties? Kenya has over 50. It can teach Africans not just about democracy, it can also instruct them on justice.
For all its exemplary political conduct, what does Kenya get? Bad press and a presidential snub! Other than having Nelson Mandela, South Africa has nothing on Kenya. The lions in Tanzania are all Kenyan.
Mr Obama seems to be oblivious of the numerous sacrifices many Kenyans have quietly made to bring him to where he is. Numerous Kenyans, working as immigrants, have lifted the American economy from the ignominy of the world economic crisis.
Kenya has allowed thousands of Americans to work as spies, marines, teachers, researchers and what-not just to cover Mr Obama’s vulnerability in failing to create jobs at home. His truancy in dodging the call of his ancestral home invites punishment commensurate with his mischief.
Mr Obama should think long and hard about the effect of Kenya demanding the repatriation of all its resources stolen to benefit America – starting with six pints of his blood, 16 of his teeth and 50 per cent of his brain. The rest should follow in due course.
Choices have consequences.
Choices have consequences.