Wednesday, October 15, 2008



OCTOBER 15 2008

Nancy Mburu

Jerome Corsi, author and conservative activist, has an added feather in his cap — he is persona non-grata in Kenya. Maybe that’s what you get when you defend your political ideals too zealously. Corsi is sure a political animal, but he met other animals on Kenyan soil.

The poor man’s woes might make a plot for a good book one day now that humans are known to capitalise on each other’s misfortunes. Corsi is no exception given the timeliness of his bestsellers, The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality, and his 2004 book on John Kerry, Unfit for Command. Both say some pretty unflattering things about Democrat presidential candidates.

Well, the chickens have come home to roost: Welcome to Africa’s realpolitik, Dr Corsi.

While some are seething with rage at the Government’s seeming crude treatment of the right-wing writer, the incident has provided comic relief for many Africans in the Diaspora. Corsi is now the butt of derisive jokes, with some, on those notoriously unregulated Kenyan blogs, suggesting unprintable ways to deal with the controversial author. The same bloggers are also threatening violence if the election is ‘rigged’ (meaning if Obama loses)! Trust Kenyans to solve problems the ‘Kenyan way’.

Honesty is the best policy. But not always. Corsi had earlier told the New York Times his motive for writing the book: "The goal is to defeat Obama. I don’t want Obama to be in office."

And despite all the hullaballoo about denying him the right to freedom of expression, Obama-obsessed African immigrants in the West are rationalising the Government’s action.

"Ignorant Republican (sic). Thought he could lecture Kenyans on what is good for them," Joe Mark, an immigrant from Liberia, spits, toothpick in the mouth. His co-workers scream with laughter. Joe is a green card holder who works as a forklift driver in one of the factories hard hit by the US economic crisis. Like many immigrants, he is not eligible to vote in the November 4 election. But he hopes Obama will win so he can fulfill his pledge to uplift the lives of blue-collar workers, where the majority of immigrants fall. Obama is believed to have stronger economic policies than Senator John McCain, needed to rescue the world’s tottering giant.

Kamande, a cashier in a beauty store, joins in: "We came to America in search of a better life. We have families to support back home but jobs are no longer assured. Our wages are based on an hourly basis but the hours have reduced. What will become of us if we have ‘more of the same’?" he poses, referring to the Democrats’ standard reference to McCain’s candidacy.

Odhiambo, popularly known as Odhis, jokes that it is only in Africa where the authorities can quickly allege a violation of the law and mete out instant justice on the offending individual. Corsi was accused of "illegally engaging in business activities" and quickly hauled on the next plane back home without being given a chance to engage an immigration lawyer to argue his case.

"The man should have stuck to his original plan to watch Kenya ’s famed wildlife, rather than try to play wise guy," smirks Susan, a nurse in Baltimore city. She believes a Kenyan would face a similar fate in the US if they tried to engage in such unpopular activities. "Americans deport foreigners at the slightest excuse of a real or imagined threat to their national security."

Susan argues that perhaps Corsi had heard that in Africa anything goes. "That will teach him a lesson not to take us so much for granted next time."

Njambi, an accountant, feels that Corsi was trying open up healing wounds of the post-election violence, by linking Obama and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to the clashes.

But there are those, of course, who believe in behavioural psychology theories on man’s inherent goodness. Curiously, Americans are not in this category. They simply do not care about Corsi’s ordeal in the ‘Dark Continent’. They are preoccupied with more pressing problems.

Corsi’s saga has received near non-existent media coverage in the US. There was only a fleeting video clip of the author being kicked out of Kenya under CNN’s satirical show, ‘It happened, but not on our show’, an equivalent of KTN’s ‘News Shot’. The presenter was later caught on camera shaking with laughter.

Tough luck for Corsi.

Julian, another immigrant, cannot understand why Corsi chose to launch his book in Kenya . "He had some nerve. Did he know what he was up against? That he was on Obama’s ancestral land and that the Immigration minister, hailing from Nyanza, is automatically presumed to be Obama’s cousin?" he asks with a shake of the head.


Anonymous said...
October 15, 2008 at 7:42 PM  

Corsi might have lied to immigration officers to let him enter Kenya. They found out that his reason for entering was different from his paper-work. What did he expect to happen? Did he want Otieno Kajwang's troop to just let him violate Kenya Immigration Laws because of his skin? It is about breaking the law, stupid! In US, probably no one would have heard of a Corsi when it comes to defending their laws. It is fast return from the airport in the next plane with a loaf of bread. You won't be allwed to see or wave to the relatives who came to meet you, buddy. Well, Corsi was lucky to visit one of Kenya's finest hotels and chill for a couple days. Corsi, ban your own book from the continent of Africa. It won't sale among these Obama-manias.