By Gilbert O Kenya
Barrack Obama landed in Kenya yesterday, for the first time since he got out of the White House as POTUS.
However, news of his visit to the land of his forefathers – his second since he became POTUS – has sparked mixed reactions from Kenyans, especially in the social media streets.
My fellow countrymen never cease to amaze me. I have been bemusedly reading stuff full of “Obama didn’t do this, Obama didn’t do that for Kenya…bla bla bla…when he was POTUS.”
Why do Kenyans always expect too much from people who owe them nothing?
The man had a superpower to run, besides having numerous complex global issues to deal with, for crying out loud! We can’t also forget that American politicians from the right and far-right wing were always poised, as vultures, waiting for a slight misstep from the son of Kogelo, so that they could totally roast him and have him for dinner.
In fact, even some people from his own left-leaning Democrats had their doubts about Obama’s citizenship and had raised the issue during the Democratic Party primaries, in which Obama trounced Hillary Clinton.
When will Kenyans wake to the reality that there is no messianic figure, who will come from outside, to change the status quo in this country?
Unless we all decide to sanitize our primitively tribal politics, as a people, we shall keep on having patented thieves and economic saboteurs as leaders in the highest offices of the land.
So, how was Obama supposed to change Kenya? First, we must understand that, in spite of his Kenyan roots, Obama is as American as the Statue of Liberty – that imposing sculpture on Liberty Island in New York City, whose torch purports to light the way to freedom and liberty.
However, what the American minorities – made of mainly blacks, Hispanics and Latinos – have been going through, especially under the current POTUS Donald Trump’s hurtful immigration policies, makes a mockery of the symbolic torch held aloft by the iconic colossus. But that’s a story for another day.
As POTUS, Obama’s first and foremost call of duty was to serve the American people and take care of his country’s global interests. Let nobody cheat you that America gives a shit about any country’s welfare in the entire world.
The interests of the US always come first for any POTUS, and that’s how the country has managed to maintain her superpower status for a while now. This is a tradition that Obama couldn’t break in favour of Kenya.
Some Kenyans have dismissively said that there is nothing Obama can do for Kenya now that he didn’t do while he was POTUS. I am of a contrary opinion. Obama can lobby for Kenya better as a retired POTUS and private citizen of America than when he was in the strait jacket the White House is.
In the US the constitution reigns supreme and this makes it very difficult for any POTUS to operate as he or she wishes.
Perhaps we are too used to presidents who make roadside declarations and dish developmental goodies, which are not even budgeted for, in political rallies.
Did we expect Obama to do the same?
Remember the “birther” movement? There are people from the far right wing of American politics couldn’t reconcile with the fact that Obama had actually become their new POTUS in 2009.
Dr Orly Taitz, the conspiracy theorist who produced a dubious birth certificate claiming that Obama was born in Mombasa Kenya, represented this group. They hoped that this would be used to unseat the first black American to occupy the White House.
This means that, back in the USA Obama’s “Kenyanness” was used against him from the get go. He was pushed to an extent that the White House was forced to produce documents proving that he was actually born in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Since then, Obama knew that his detractors in the American politics had him under close scrutiny, waiting for him to make any move about Kenya so that they could use it against him.
This can explain why Obama avoided coming to Kenya during his first term in office. Some argue that Obama could have used his position as the most powerful man in the world to impose electoral justice and democracy in Kenya.
He knew better than immerse himself in the murky and highly tribal Kenyan politics and he was right in giving it a wide berth.
Suppose Obama supported the Kenyan opposition led by Raila Odinga by then. He would instantly be labelled a “jaruo” supporting a fellow “jaruo”! And that’s Kenyan politics for you.
Now is the right time for Obama to lobby the world and bring development projects to Kenya without worrying about his country’s homeland politics. I hear he is coming with a high powered team of investors.
This is definitely a good starting point and the least we can do is to welcome the famous son of the soil without giving him too much negative press. Let’s cut the son of Kogelo some slack.