It is only a matter of hours before US President Barack Hussein Obama sets foot in Kenya, the country of his ancestry, for the first time since he became the leader of the ‘free world’.
The first black President, Obama’s victory in the US 2008 elections excited the African continent, with many black people optimistic that he would give the continent serious consideration. On this he did not disappoint as he warned African leaders against a host of transgressions, signaling that he would alienate those he found culpable. “Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions,” was the famous quote he made while in Ghana, on his maiden visit to heartland of the continent of his ancestors.
The pronouncement was like jazz music in the ears of several downtrodden Africans, many of who know nothing but suffering, orchestrated by their own governments and leaders.
Indeed, when President Obama visited Africa for the second time between June 26 and July 2, 2013, Kenya was missing on his ‘to visit list’ ostensibly because the president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta had been indicted for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC) following the post-election crisis of 2007 in which over 1300 died and thousands others were displaced. Kenyatta has since been cleared of the charges, a welcome relief for both the president and his people, who have had the chance of witnessing and experiencing Obama’s historic visit to Kenya, the place where his father was born and raised.
That said, President Obama has visited five African countries namely: Ghana, Benin, Tanzania (2), South Africa (2), Senegal. All these countries have something in common; they practice democracy, at least to levels acceptable to the US.
One of the pillars of democracy is the holding of regular, free and fair elections, which pave the way for peaceful change of government, a cherished ideal of the US in regard to global politics.
However, as President Obama serves his last two years in the White House, there are still several African leaders he found in power and who are still holding the reins, something that will put a dent on his otherwise noble legacy as a global statesman, because they have not ‘built strong institutions’ but have remained strongmen.
Otherwise, Africa, and Kenya in particular, welcome President Obama!