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Obama come home!

26 Jan

There has been a lot of publicity regarding US president Barrack Obama and his Kenyan roots. Kenya is the land of his father and expectantly people were keen on how this irrefutable bond will influence the relationship between the two countries. The most optimistic of us predicted a surge in US – Kenya relations transcending to a mutual benefit especially on the economic front.Kenya’s former president Mwai Kibaki specifically hailed Obama’s victory as significant not only in the history of the United States, but also for Kenya, his ancestral homeland. He added that the victory of Obama was their own victory because of his roots in Kenya. This turned out not to be the case, as Obama had other plans. Ever since his first inauguration on January 20, 2009, Obama has travelled to 46 different states internationally. In Africa, he has ironically only visited four including Ghana in 2009, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania in 2013. He has visited Indonesia the land of the his step father twice during his presidency and analysts have attributed part his demise in approval ratings to his failure to ignite his home spirits, his home connections, his roots.

In 2013, Obama embarked on his second official African trip and he snubbed Kenya in favour of South Africa, Senegal, and Tanzania, Kenya’s next-door neighbor and perennial rival. International relations experts have observed that historically, Kenya has been a strong U.S. ally. According to a 2012 BBC global opinion poll, 79% of Kenyans view the U.S. positively, making citizens of the nation some of the most pro-American in Africa. The deterioration of relations between the governments of the U.S. and Kenya is unfortunate, but it is not an isolated example in Africa and epitomizes the failure of American’s engagement strategy throughout the continent. The lack of restraint in scolding African governments on how they govern is directly opposite to the quite diplomacy practised by China which partly the reason why China has emerged as the top Global powerhouse. Lucrative commercial opportunities aside, the U.S. will rightfully strive to be an inspiration to African governments by encouraging them to embrace more robust democratic ideals, aggressively fight corruption, and invest more in social development. But this goal can be accomplished without the U.S.’ usual “name-and-shame” approach to diplomacy that African leaders have become accustomed to, and have increasingly ignored now that a partnership with non-judgmental China presents a viable alternative.

In more positive recent news President Obama met with President Uhuru and the US leader has finally declared he will visit Kenya in the near future. He however has not given a date, but Washington and Nairobi are working on the finer details of the proposed visit.



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