Excerpt : US President Barack Obama is coming to his ancestral home at the tail end of his two terms, not for the love of this nation but to tick the boxes.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

US President Barack Obama is coming to his ancestral home at the tail end of his two terms, not for the love of this nation but to tick the boxes. His disdain for Kenya was exemplified when his administration announced in 2013 that “choices have consequences” in relation to the presidency campaign by UhuruRuto, shortly after their indictment at The Hague.

In democracies, a person is innocent until proven guilty by a court; but the US warned that Kenya would suffer the consequences. Two years on, Uhuru has been cleared, and Ruto too will likely be cleared soon. The US had to bite the bullet and transact with the duo.

I am convinced that Obama failed to deliver on his pledges in Accra in 2009, particularly to Muslims and the African continent. His administration has done little to improve its relationship with Muslims despite his promise to change the US perceptions. Key pledges such as the closure of Guantanamo Bay remain unfulfilled.

During his tenure, the entire North African states of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Middle East countries such as Syria, Yemen and the Gulf countries have descended into disastrous conflicts that have greatly undermined world security with the emergence terrorist groups as ISIS.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, Obama remains clueless about how to address trade and investment partnership with Africa that he pledged. His belated attempt to rally African countries to Washington last year was a response to Chinese takeover of the continent.

China is Africa’s largest trading partner, with a trade volume of over $200 billion in 2013, compared to US’s $30 billion even after its purported shifting of its strategy from aid to trade. Even in aid, while the US allocation is declining, China’s aid to Africa is increasing annually by over 35 per cent.

Under his administration, the US continues to view Africa largely through the usual security, governance and democracy prisms, rather than ‘true partnership’ in trade and investment that he pledged. If Obama has failed Africa, he probably has succeeded in turning around his country’s material fortunes, but robbed it of its morality.

While the US has the right to pursue what it deems to be its values however abhorrent it may be to others, it doesn’t have the right to lecture African countries on the same. The so-called gay rights is not a priority in our country where nearly half the population lack basic rights to food, shelter and health, and the government tramples on freedom of expression, and violates other fundamental rights. We do not expect handouts too, with or without strings attached, but wish to sign business contracts with the US.

When he told Africans in Accra that he would pursue true partnership ‘grounded in mutual responsibility and mutual respect’, many thought he would keep the pledge. We may be poor but we have pride in our culture and religion, which debases same-sex relationships and other immoralities that Obama now markets unashamedly in his ancestral continent.

I am troubled too by the State House statement that Kenyans should respect Obama’s right to lecture us on gay rights; tell it to the birds! Respect is mutual! He is a guest, and it is African culture to respect your host and not preach immorality in his house. If he talks about gays, walk out of his meeting.

The famous Irish author George Bernard Shaw said of the US “America is the only nation in the world that has gone straight from barbarity to degeneration, without the usual intervention of civilization”. I couldn’t agree more!

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