Every time U.S. President, Barack Obama makes a trip to the African continent something interesting happens. The media crowd, those who can’t stop saying negative things about the continent come out and begin their Africa mantra.
They did this during Obama’s first stop in the continent as president in 2009. They did it when he traveled to Senegal, Tanzania, and South Africa in 2013.
Let’s call this Africamania, a desire to discredit the continent, and its people and make them look bad and helpless in the eyes of the world. In other words, despite tremendous progress, the continent still is a place of war, chaos, corruption, and bad things that keep happening.
What they are telling us today is, that the places where the president is going are all bad, bad, bad and the U.S. National Security team should be careful because other places are bad, but this one is worse.
The practice is to tarnish the image of the continent by making hell out of it.
Now they are doing it again. See: Kenyans are really upset about how CNN is covering Obama’s Africa trip
Suffice to say that not all African critics are destructive. There is what we call constructive criticism, the ability to make good out of a bad situation. With Afrikamania, the critics are misinformed. They tear down and there is no room for rehabilitation. There is not an iota of a solution that is offered.
Yet, the criticisms that I hear and read about are always in stark contrast with the aspirations of those who wish to see the entire continent continue to do well.
With this trip to Kenya and Ethiopia, the critics have an opportunity to tarnish Kenya as well as Ethiopia’s image and make them laughable. In the case of Ethiopia, the fuss is about the country’s human rights record, as if Ethiopia can never redeem itself. There are plenty of countries in this world, including the U.S., that have done really terrible things, but like Ethiopia, they deserve a second chance.
Some reporters will never subject the U.S. Government to the same treatment when prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are water-boarded or when bankers on Wall Street use unscrupulous means to cheat stock traders in millions of dollars. See: Justice Department Sets Sights on Wall Street Executives
In the case of Kenya, I take issue with Edward Isaac-Dovere’s Obama’s most dangerous trip yet: Visiting Kenya is arguably riskier for the president than an active war zone.
Written for Politico, this article an example of how not to write about Africa, a depiction of Africans as a useless bunch who don’t deserve America’s attention. We see this with Dovere’s faux arguments about a price tag for the 2013 trip the president made as well as what it would now cost the American taxpayer with this trip to Kenya and Ethiopia.
“This trip, while over fewer days and fewer countries, and without the first lady or their daughters accompanying him, is a similarly large and expensive undertaking, in large part because of the danger.”
So the president should not go because it is a waste of taxpayer money and it is a dangerous thing to do.
In other words, Obama is risking his life and that of the team traveling with him on this trip. Kenya is so bad that Obama should take a pass on the place, is what Dovere is saying.
The place is so bad not just because of al-Shabaab in the neighborhoods, but because the place where the president’s father was born is a mess with its rusty slums. Why should Obama take such a risk? Why should the president of the United States do this? Why?
Then Dovere continues:
“There’s also the possibility that a visit could incite trouble, either by Al-Shabaab or by members of the Luo tribe, looking to capitalize on the visit of the world’s most famous Luo to attempt to make a point to the Kikuyu-run government.” I don’t know what to say about this.
But it amazes me that the writer is worried about things breaking loose in Kenya and causing trouble for the president. What about the things which have already broken loose here in America and causing trouble for everyone.
What about the millions of military-style guns on American streets and what about the hundreds of Americans killed by their fellow Americans in the name of freedom.
Is it not dangerous enough for the president here already, with people toting guns into churches, school grounds, and supermarkets in the name of freedom? What about the bunch of crazies in this blessed country who engage in gun battles with police in the streets every day?
Moreover, the assault weapons, littered on American streets, make the U.S. a war zone, more than Kenya is a dangerous place for a few hours visit by Barack Obama. As far as I know, the peaceful citizens in Nairobi don’t murder their own people to the same extent like Americans murder each other with their guns.
See Washington Post article: President Obama is right that guns kill more Americans than terrorism. So do lots of other things.
Here is a little reminder.
His ascent into the highest office in the United States by Obama in 2008 was a pivotal moment not just for the U.S. but for other places and relationships around the world, including Kenya. You might say, what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.
As the world’s greatest nation and super-power, America and its president, the so-called leader of the free world can inspire hope and bring change to peoples and communities in ways unimaginable.
While he himself is not Kenyan, the relationship with Kenya is something that Kenya’s are celebrating. And the larger implication is that Obama’s ties to Kenya are the ties that bind America, Kenya, and the African continent in a way no other U.S. president can claim.