Obama is not coming to Kenya and Kenyans are sulking. How? How can he not know that we should be top of the list…and that that should not have even been a subject of debate seeing that we are his relatives…brothers, sisters and cousins…albeit sometimes twice…thrice removed. But we are “blood” and after all…si nyumbani ni nyumbani! He can’t even listen to the tug of his shosho’s umbilical calling?
So the discussion at the State department, as they met to plan the trip, should really have focused on whether he should also go to TZ and SA and all those other countries that naturally fall in behind Kenya…All things nice, about us considered.
My modest research tells me that the United States and Kenya have enjoyed cordial relations since Kenya’s independence. Relations became even closer after Kenya’s democratic transition of 2002 and subsequent improvements in human rights.
After Kenya’s independence on 12 December 1963, the United States immediately recognized the new nation and moved to establish diplomatic relations. The embassy in Nairobi was established 12 December 1963—Kenya’s Independence Day…Right on the same day. They celebrated our birthday with that! Very profound I must say!
Then again, more than 9,000 U.S. citizens are registered with the U.S. Embassy as residents of Kenya. In 2006 a record 86,528 Americans visited Kenya, up 17.6% from 2005. U.S. business investment is estimated to be more than $285 million, primarily in commerce, light manufacturing, and the tourism industry.
So really…How can Obama skip over us like that? We are also blood yawa! And I keep on coming back there because that is how it feels if your rela arrives in your part of the world to visit and then heads back out without visiting you…not even a phone call. Worse still…the rela visits a neighbor who you have never really had much in common with and that you don’t like very much…and then sends a message ati you pokea ,salaams from them akiwa safarini kuelekea!
It doesn’t matter that they have been MPesaing you with aid here and there. This rela, and especially if they came visiting from majuu, should know that you needed to spend some much previously touted floss time with them. So now, what will you tell the neighbors and others? Anything you say to them can and will be construed to be sour grapes!
And Kenyans did offer a lot of sour grapes on Facebook and twitter…Ati even its better that Obama is not coming because of the traffic jam that would have caused them to be late for work. Now I know a lot of who Kenyans do not have a strong work ethic and being late has never really been a bone of contention…more a good and plausible excuse!
Some were more realistic and closer to the truth when they talked about the gas / petrol lost while idling in the jam waiting for the plane to land, traditional welcome and signing of visitors book and then the msafara into city center of the guest and entourage. Others just shrugged it off in resignation and capitulation with a “si akae basi!…Na ata asikuje akimaliza kukuwa prezzo!”
The Telegraph, in an update on the planing of the trip, carried a piece recently on how Barack and Michelle Obama have reportedly scrapped a safari during their trip to Africa, and while in TZ specifically, because of the costs of snipers needed “to neutralize cheetahs, lions and other animals if they became a threat..”! I shared that on FB and I got an earful in response from my friends! Some said it was just as well they will not visit Kenya because now the disappointment would have extended to our lions and cheetahs. Then we would be left to deal with them to calm them down.
Another said that that is just an excuse because the safari would have been during the day when the lions and cheetahs are already well fed (poor zebra and gazelles and gnus!) and are usually taking a lazy nap. The Chinese Premier paid a visit recently and he did a safari and he was okay…and he did check out the wildlife scene!
A more serious reaction involved someone suggesting that the lions and cheetahs are a metaphor for a wild and hard to understand or control local ‘tribes-people” and the snipers would be stretched to pinpoint where in the woody jungle they could be hiding and pounce from! Then there is the misplaced notion that animals just roam wild in Africa and intermittently show up in the city…Now I know why we have Zebra crossings!
What ever the reason for Obama circumventing us, we must move on because no amount of venting, short of picketing and bringing Shosho or Dani from Kogelo to the picket line, will change that program. The Telegraph in the same story says that including this coming trip, “Mr Obama has spent less than 24 hours in sub-Saharan Africa during his time as president, when he visited Ghana in 2009…”
Kenya has never had a visit by a sitting US President and so maybe there is a good reason…and a pattern. Americans say “if it aint broke…Don’t fix it!” It aint broke with Kenya and so nothin’ needs fixin’ I guess. My sour grapes is that Obama and entourage have on their agenda to visit where it needs fixin’. We’re blood and he will come…In good time because like that song says…“Nyumbani ni nyumbani”!…Home is home!
©njeriOsaak is a trained journalist, a Public Relations professional and a College Speech Communication teacher / Consultant, currently based in the United States.