As the world celebrated the Inauguration of Barack Obama as the President of the United States of America, Kenya celebrated with pomp and colour probably more than the rest of the world. To Kenyans, Obama was their son in the Diaspora and having scaled such heights was like a dream come true to many.
A son of Kenya had won! It was celebration and celebrations everywhere around the world. I too celebrated and rejoiced. I felt I was leaving in a world for the first time in my life that mattered even in the smallest things and great moments. A world that is full of prejudice than hope different opinions and such like. I felt proud to witness that special moment in my life time. Such moments are rare. I reflected and got inspired. The world had indeed changed. Change was visible and invariable. It is a moment that touched everybody and cut across race and colour from east to west, north to south, from the coast to the highlands and indeed the whole world. It is a moment that brought tears, love, embrace; warmth and a sense of belonging. It brought unity;that single moment united the world in celebration somebody was awake when he was supposed to be a sleep and everywhere it was the same feeling. People forgot their dreams for a moment, they forgot their destinies. Yes they did, we did.
As Obama was getting ready for his inauguration on January 20th, somebody asked me to voice my opinion as a Kenyan on what we can expect from the Obama presidency. Well, it has taken me sometime to think about it. Yes we celebrated his coming to Presidency but what are we expecting to see/get from the Obama Presidency?
First and foremost Obama’s father was from Kogelo , Kenya. Indeed Obama comes from a bi-racial background that places him as a true son of the Diaspora who has Kenyan / African roots. This clearly shows that his background is important because it transcends the racial barriers, race should not be a barrier. We can only unite and celebrate in our diverse cultural backgrounds.
From Africa, Kenya sees herself as a big ally of the US / close ally with close relationship. This way Kenya hopes to gain in tourism as much since Obama’s roots and background already puts Kenya in the international map and it is a marketing gimmick already. What is happening now is that, a route from Nairobi city to western Kenya in Kogelo where Obama’s father was born is already being developed by the Kenya tourism board. They are identifying interesting features along the route. It is expected that more tourists will come to see the president elect’s roots.
A world can celebrate the diversity of different cultures.
Indeed Obama’s (and the US elections) can serve as a good example to African countries, Kenya included, on how elections should be carried in existing democracies and how one can concede to defeat. In Africa there are problems that arise as a result of elections leading to blood shed and political divisions. Early last year, Kenya experienced such violence after a highly disputed election. People are indeed learning that there is a way to better politics from the US elections. That a loser can concede defeat and acknowledge the winner. If we had this happening articulately in African politics, we could avoid tribal based politics and violent scenarios. Obama clearly showed Kenyans that for one to be elected, it doesn’t count on one’s background but his abilities and qualities to be a leader.
Obama also showed us that politics cannot be a dirty game if you talked about issues that touch on society. He clearly stayed away from dirty political games and this could be a good lesson to Kenya .
From the Obama presidency, Africans and Kenyans are hoping that the world’s trade pattern would not discriminate especially to Africa as it has always happened before. They expected a fair and free trade between Africa and the rest of the world. It is clear now that Africa can produce and feed itself, Africa doesn’t need aid, it needs a market and free and fair trade.
Also global politics must not be playing roles when it comes to Africans conflicts. Kenya is healing from the past conflict of a disputed election. Development in economy is expected to raise infrastructure and more aid.
In Kenya , to celebrate Obama’s win, we saw musicals, songs, poetry and dance to celebrate his success. Merchandise including T-shirts to paintings, to cutlery to morals was also in plenty.
We expect that under Obama’s leadership there will be enough Aid to Africa to counter diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS, poverty and looming wars in African nations. Also to be expected is his approach to the war on terror, crime and piracy in high seas. We hope that there will be investments in projects in Kenya or that they can be funded.
As Obama is begins his work as the 44th president of the US , we wish him good times in the White House as we celebrate together and we want to see the results of his promises and his vision.