The Star (Nairobi)

16 November 2012

Kenya: Spotlight on Kenya After U.S. Election

opinion

The most riveting general election in the world finally came to an end mid last week.The reason the US elections capture the imagination of many souls across the globe is because whoever gets elected automatically becomes the most powerful man on earth.

Since 1989 when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down and with it the fall of the USSR Empire, the US has assumed the role of the only super power to exist and wield immense power in the post Cold War era.

Power aside, the last two American elections have been unique in one aspect. For the first time in America's over 200 year history, the country has elected an African American not once but twice in four years.

When Barack Obama first sought the Democratic nomination in 2007, most pundits, black and white wrote him off as a nonstarter, more so because he dared to challenge Hilary Clinton, a former First Lady whose husband, Bill Clinton was a household name who had run the Federal Government for eight years between 1992 and 2000.

However Obama's audacity of hope mesmerized the Democrats' old order and surprisingly got endorsements from the likes of the late Ted Kennedy who likened him to his charismatic brother, JF Kennedy who was assassinated while barely in his third year of his first term in office.

Obama's blackness and obvious roots in Kenya made him a soft target for racial attacks. At that point, especially after winning his first primaries against Hilary Clinton, attacks and attempts on his life intensified making him the most highly guarded head of state in history.

Compared to China with a massive population of 1.5 billion people, the US population of 300 million across its 50 odd states has less in terms of human resource and consumer base. China is five times stronger than the United States.

However, over the years, the United States has invested heavily in technology, especially defense military hardware. The advancement has been so massive that its military can today deploy unmanned jet fighters to hit targets thousands of miles away.

Despite this scientific advancement, the US politics we saw in 2008 and 2012 has been local and basic to say the least. Bigotry, racism and class discrimination have not been banished.

There is still inherent fear of "foreigners" (immigrants) coming over to take over their country. The most affected and terrified by this imaginary fear are the white American populations who see African Americans, Hispanics, Mexicans and the rest of the Third World as foreigners.

Yet, a little history of the United States is very clear that the Great America was never a white man's land in the first. The indigenous Red Indians were massacred or rounded up to give way to the mostly European settlers from England, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Spain and of course African slaves that the same superpowers of the time forcefully exported to the Americas to work the plantation fields.

Over the years, Chinese, Japanese and many nationals of South East Asia and the Middle East have joined in the fray to settle in this land of opportunities.

Indeed America has become, more than ever before, a melting pot. And if this trend continues uninterrupted, white Americans will soon be the minority in that land of opportunity.

Now that the US elections are over, the world attention may turn to Kenya--and not because Kenya is a super power in the same league as the US.

Firstly, it is the birthplace of the father of Barack Obama. Secondly, the US president has made it quite clear that some serious reforms should take place in the land of his father.

These changes are in the area of good governance, respect for human rights and better management of Kenya's economic resources.

During the 2007 elections, Kenya was shot into the limelight for all the wrong reasons. The disputed presidential elections which culminated in one of the bloodiest conflicts in Kenya's history.

At the end of it all, the international community intervened to stop the carnage. Being the launch pad for any efforts dealing with conflicts in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region; being the third largest UN host country outside New York and Geneva, the world has invested so heavily in Kenya that it cannot afford to see Kenya go up in flames again.

For these reasons, Kenya is the next big election to watch after the USA. The world must make sure Kenya gets it right despite the signs that all is not well with our politics.

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