Obama Faces Political Minefield During Kenyan ‘Homecoming’

In this Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008 file photo, a boy pushes his bicycle past a sign for the Senator Obama secondary school in the village of Kogelo, Kenya where Barack Obama's grandmother lives. Barack Obama, the United States’ first African-American president, has captured the imagination of people across the continent where his face shows up on billboards, backpacks, T-shirts and restaurants. On Friday, July 24, 2015 Obama will be visiting Kenya, where his father was born, for a summit on entrepreneurship before heading to Ethiopia to address leaders at the African Union headquarters. Wherever he goes, large crowds are expected to gather and cheer him. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, file)
In this Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008 file photo, a boy pushes his bicycle past a sign for the Senator Obama secondary school in the village of Kogelo, Kenya where Barack Obama's grandmother lives. Barack Obama, the United States’ first African-American president, has captured the imagination of people across the continent where his face shows up on billboards, backpacks, T-shirts and restaurants.  On Friday, July 24, 2015 Obama will be visiting Kenya, where his father was born, for a summit on entrepreneurship before heading to Ethiopia to address leaders at the African Union headquarters. Wherever he goes, large crowds are expected to gather and cheer him. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, file)
In this Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008 file photo, a boy pushes his bicycle past a sign for the Senator Obama secondary school in the village of Kogelo, Kenya where Barack Obama’s grandmother lives. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, file)

(The Guardian) – Everyone thought Francis Oduor was dead. In fact the Kenyan international footballer had fled into the bush, walked four miles and gone into hiding after his house was torched. When he resurfaced, people were shocked and ashamed. “I was like the walking dead,” he said. “Everyone recoiled at the sight of me.”

Like many survivors of the post-election violence in 2007-8 that claimed at least 1,100 lives here, Oduor feels that justice has not been done because no senior politician has been held to account. He therefore refuses to join in the state-sponsored euphoria around Barack Obama’s “homecoming” to Kenya, which begins on Friday night when Air Force One lands in east Africa’s biggest economy.

It will be Obama’s first visit to the land of his father as US president and a far cry from a 1988 trip when his luggage got lost. He will be greeted by the stars and stripes flying all over the capital, Nairobi, and giant billboards and paintings bearing his face with slogans such as “Welcome home”. Last-minute beautification projects include the painting of street kerbs and planting of flowers and grass, while 10,000 police officers will protect the honoured guest.

Yet beneath the shiny surface lies a political minefield. Obama, ostensibly here to address the Global Entrepreneurship summit, will also meet some of Africa’s most divisive politicians in both Kenya and neighbouring Ethiopia. Human rights organisations are lining up to demand that, along with championing security alliances and economic development, he should raise hard questions about democracy and civil liberties.

READ MORE

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.