Tuesday, June 9, 2009



A Rejoinder
By Dr.Joel Ademisoye
Washington, DC

Jerry Okungu's article, "Kenya's honeymoon with Obama has turned sour" posted in The New Vision, Uganda's leading website, dated June 4, 2009 provides for an interesting and palatable reading for Africans who do not buy into this idea of honeymoon between Washington and Nairobi. This writer does not believe that there was a consummated marriage between the Obama administration, which was democratically elected in November 2008 and the autocratic government of Kibaki, which rigged the presidential elections in Kenya.

More importantly,Okungu's article reveals the Obama administration's new approach in dealing with autocratic governments and political leaders such as Kibaki on the African continent. Hence, it is just more than a snub. It is clear and very apparent that the Kenyan government is not a good example of a democratically elected administration in that part of the world. The million dollar question that we Africans need to ask ourselves is why should the Obama administration warm up to and be cozy with the government in Nairobi?

The rationale from the Kenyan perspective is simply based on paternal relationship bearing on President Obama's ancestral connection with the country. Why the profound pressure from Nairobi on the new administration to play the African ethnic card by providing special treatment or special favors for the Kibaki government?

So far, the Obama administration has employed a pragmatic approach in addressing or resolving many domestic issues and international problems. Why should the Kenyan situation be any different? I am sure, this is a tough call for President Obama in shying away from embracing the Kibaki administration. Other reasons are not far fetched, one of them which comes to mind is the faltering of the government of national unity in Nairobi.

It seems Kibaki and Odinga cannot get their act together in the interest of the Kenya people. Ethnic politics is a serious problem on the African continent which is another factor undermining the socio-economic development of the people. The aftermath crisis of the Kenyan presidential elections reveals the destruction of property with heavy death tolls. To make matters worse, it further polarized and divided the already fragile ethnic fissures in the Kenyan society.

In a nut shell, the Kibaki administration in Nairobi is weak and very dysfunctional owing to divergent interests between the Luo and the Kikuyu political class.

President Obama is going to Ghana in July because the people of Ghana have gotten their act together with the commitment to democracy and economic prosperity. This small country on the West African coast has become a shinning beacon on the hill for democracy on the continent.

Making the choice of Ghana for this historic visit speaks volumes in sending a strong message to autocratic regimes on the continent to watch out and to put their house in order. It is not business usual in dealing with corrupt African leaders.

This writer is applauding the White House and the U.S. State Department for not yielding to this unnecessary and frivoluos pressure from the Kibaki administration. Therefore, this writer is imploring the Obama administration to exercise a new paradigm in dealing with the Kibakis and Mugabes on the African continent. The U.S. relations with many of these undemocratic governments with serious violation of human rights should be reexamined and future dealings be dictated and based on total reforms leading to good governance, freedom of the press and religion and respect for the rights of the citizenry.

President Obama needs to extend the democratic ideals and values to every part of the continent. Africans like other citizens living in many parts of the global can no longer tolerate these autocrats and dictators who have clinged to power at all cost for decades. Africans like the Americans, cherish and love their freedom and liberty. So, this writer views the Obama administration as a source of hope and the lightening rod in bringing about meaningful changes for the African people.

So, I say to President Obama, the leader of the Free World, please bring the 'beacon' home. Africans are yearning for total transformation of the continent, free of ethnic conflicts, filled with economic prosperity, devoid of epidemic diseases and assured of better hopes for the future generation.

Dr. Joel Ademisoye
Washington, D.C.