Opinion
Why President Barack Obama is not visiting Kenya
Publish Date: Aug 04, 2014
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By George Ntambaazi

In the remaining years of Barack Obama’s presidency, the first African American to hold that office, I would like to call attention to some of the obvious consequences of his leadership.

During his campaigns, millions of people supported and admired him almost to the point of idolisation culminating into him winning the presidency in 2008 and consequently the Noble Peace Prize in 2009. There were fireworks, parties, tears of joy and thanksgiving. Kenya was specifically hysterical and African expectations by and large about Obama reached fever-pitch.

Many expected that with winning the presidency, Obama, born in the United States to a Kenyan father and an American mother, would immidiately come to his fatherland Kenya  to celebrate his glamorous achievement.

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, however, visited Indonesia, the land of his step-father Lolo Soetoro twice, first between November 9-10, 2010 and was slated for  October 2013 last year which was postponed. Probably there is a missing link between Obama and his father, that can help explain his passivity to Africa. 

Obama‘s father, was doing his studies abroad when he met Obama’s mother Ann Dunham at the University of Hawai in 1960. He married her in 1961 and  divorced her with a young son of three years in 1964. Obama Jr last saw his father in 1971, who took him to a jazz concert, before he died in a car accident in 1982. By that time, both Obama’s parents had remarried.

Obama only visited Kenya in 1987 and as a Senator in 2006 but not as a President.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Obama who began his presidency with over 75% approval rating has gradually declined to almost below 40% in 2014.  Ofcourse you can attribute this to his domestic and foreign mishaps but failure to ignite his home spirits strongly counts.

But of course some think that his failure and disappointment of many not to visit Kenya cannot obscure their admiration for his great leadership qualities and fine political career.

However, his passivity to the land of his forefathers and two, unwillingness to even contemplate coming back is an abomination to us Africans. However, we still harbour dreams and have the audacity of hope that Obama will finally come home.

Perhaps, some of you think issues of ICC indictments of Kenyan leaders prevent him, but those indictments were not there in his first term.

It is obvious Obama’s visit to Kenya as a president would enhance its position in the world and would be hailed with delight. But now, should he decide to come, there is a likelihood of questioning his loyalty and deny him all the pomp he would have got had he come earlier.

I am certainly hopeful that next week, when he will be hosting a US-Africa Leaders’ Summit of Heads of State and government, he will step back and reflect on the achievements of African descendants in America, and their transformation of the American Society.

The writer is a regional political analyst

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