19 August 2018

Kenya: Uhuru White House Visit Has Special Meaning

opinion

Who picks a fight with LeBron James? The colossal basketball player is a larger-than-life character both off the court and on it. He is a hero to many.

Not the sort of individual any person would rush to pick a fight with. But, alas, as the world has come to realise, US President Donald Trump is willing to pick a fight with anyone.

The problem this time was that by attacking James in the same tweet as another African American TV personality, Don Lemon, he once again brought up his questionable relationship with black Americans. The situation in America is bad. African-Americans once again feel on the back foot.

As a result, many African- Americans have now begun to look to Africa for inspiration and for identity.

And while our own Barack Obama (no Mr Trump, he was not born in Kenya) is no longer in White House, his recent visit to Kenya at this moment in history, had particularly special significance.

BLACK PRIDE

It is a matter of black pride. Now President Kenyatta is going to America at a time of optimism for both Kenya and Africa.

From the depths of the depressing presidential elections, and the post-election madness, Kenya is again on the upward trajectory.

We are racing forward towards the Big Four agenda which, if achieved, will change the future of Kenya. Healthcare, housing, food security, and a revamped manufacturing sector are the four limbs of our national body which desperately need fixing.

But perhaps more worrying for all of us is the chronic heart disease affecting the functioning of our national body -- corruption. Indeed, when African-Americans look at the continent of their forefathers they see the aforementioned issues and it pains them. But when they look at the widespread and endemic corruption, it is not pain they feel, but shame.

FIGHTING MONSTER

The saving grace is the present momentum in fighting the monster. When he stands before the American people, President Kenyatta will be able to hold his head a little higher than the vast majority of his continental counterparts.

While the Washington Post recently wrote a piece celebrating the opening shots of Mr Kenyatta's war, not many people in the US have taken notice.

The President should use his time in the US to call on America to show support for his efforts. We have already seen what international agreements can do in the fight against corruption.

In recent months, Uhuru's government has made deals with both Switzerland and Mauritius.

These two well-known havens for hidden cash are playing ball with Kenya. Bank accounts in which tens of millions of dollars are thought to have been hidden, have already been frozen.

MONEY LAUNDERING

America, of course, is the next level. The US Treasury Department is perhaps the most well-oiled anti-money laundering and anti-corruption agency in the world.

There is a reason why every country, entity and individual is petrified on finding their name on the US sanctions list. This trip is symbolic as it is pragmatic. From trade deals to coordination and cooperation with the US Treasury in our fight against corruption, there is no better partner than the United States, no matter who the president is.

From successful campaigns in Rwanda and Tanzania in East Africa, Liberia and Ghana in West Africa, there are signs that Africa is pushing back against graft.

And Kenya is now rated highly on that front. President Kenyatta could as well be carrying the black world's dream in the White House.

Ms Kaparo comments on governance issues.

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