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Kenya Looking Closely at the West July 30, 2008

Posted by Reginald Johnson in Africa, African-American, Culture, Election '08, Elections, Government, International, Life, Minority Issues, News, Politics, Reform, U.S. Congress.



Sen. Barack Obama.

Democratic Nominee Senator Barack Obama.

Everyone who has a television and even many people who do not know about the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Possibly all the people understand that the biggest thing to occur in this election is the removal of current president George W. Bush.

Barack has his work cut out for him. The Senator from Illinois is making history every day the campaign continues. He is the first African American to….yada yada yada. I know you already know that. You are reading this because you want to know something you don’t know.

Although there has been a joyful noise being made about the U.S. presidential campaign all over the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean and the African motherland, in Kenya specifically, local political dynamics show that nearly half of those asked are not bonafied Obama-maniacs. Some political junkies say they even dread Obama winning.

Now you know that Sen. Obama’s father was a Kenyan from the Luo tribe. Thisis important because in the Kenyan general elections held in December last year, the Luo supported Raila Odinga and the ODM party. They were the legitimate opposition against President Mwai Kibaki and the ruling PNU party.

Kibaki got votes from Central and Eastern Kenya mostly from his own Kikuyu tribe.

The elections were so close that disputes over the actual winner degenerated into political and ethnic violence that left 1,500 dead and half a million refugees. The violence made news all over the world. Senator Obama called for Kenyans to unite for the sake of progress.

Eventually, the global community finally convienced the Kenyan people to push for a giant coalition government. This coalition would retain Kibaki as president and establish Raila as prime minister.

The ethnic tensions still simmer.

Obama’s victory in the United States is being interpreted in Kenya for its possible implications on the political landscape. The Luo feel that an Obama presidency will help develop their area and provide jobs to the youth. They also believe that an Obama presidency will boost the chances for Prime Minister Raila to ascend to the presidency in the near future.

Raila even loosely alluded that he and Obama are distant cousins.

Did I mention that Sen. Barack Obama has a lot riding on this campaign?

The Kikuyu fear that should Obama win the US presidency, the Luo and Prime Minister Raila will gain a significant edge in influencing American policy towards Kenya. This policy could have Kibaki and members of the Kikuyu replaced. What bothers the government of Kenya is the fact that the US has veto power in the United Nations. The US also controls the policies of the World Bank and IMF.

The biggest thing is the US provides Kenya with millions of dollars in military aid. Thus, a US president that identifies with Prime Minister Raila Odinga could portend declining fortunes for Kibaki and his Kikuyu tribe.

Senator Obama was in Kenya in 2006 where he criticized President Kibaki’s government for corruption. President Kibaki and his supporters viewed the criticism as an endorsement of Raila.

Oddly since then, Obama has kept mum over Kenya’s political developments.


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