Why Sub-Saharan African Countries Will Forever Remain Docile To Bad Governance
On Friday, former US President Bill Clinton came to Kenya, on Sunday, US Secretary of State John Kerry made an official visit to Kenya. Come July 2015, sitting US President Barack Obama will visit Kenya.
On paper, it all looks great! The Kenyan government finally seems to be getting a warm reception from the West, a milestone achievement given during President Obama’s Africa tour last year; he chose to omit Kenya as part of his travel itinerary. Citing concerns over Kenya’s political situation. By then, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta was facing charges at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and alleged participation in orchestrating the violence that rocked the country in 2007.
Prior to the 2013, Kenya’s Presidential Elections, top USA officials warned Kenya that our “choice have consequences”. Something that many viewed contributed to Obama skipping Kenya in his 2013’s African tour; he instead chose to visit Tanzania, South Africa, and Senegal. All the countries which many view fits into the Obama’s administration ideology of democracy and good governance.
However, President Obama promised to visit his fatherland before leaving office as President of the United States. While being interview by Kenya’s state broadcaster, President Obama said: “I’m positive that, before my service as president is completed, I will visit Kenya again.”
So, the July visit by President Obama raises a number of questions: Does he visit his father’s land merely because of the promise he made? Has Kenya in that one year conformed to the democracy and good governance his administration touts? Or does the dropping of the cases against Kenya’s President by the ICC now clear way for his visit? If so, what about the on-going cases on the Deputy President at the same court? Or has the U.S. smelled the coffee that China is fast gaining ground across Africa, as African leaders find the ‘no-interference’ policy by China to be a better bargain when looking for foreign investors and trade partners?
Personally I think, more importantly, Obama’s visit to Kenya will open up more trade between the two countries. Perhaps water down some of the political ‘good will’ China has gained in Kenya while restoring some ‘good will’ between Kenya and the United States. I am more inclined to think Obama’s visit has more to do with bettering trade relationship between the United States and Kenya (and Africa at large), than to endorsing any political formation. It is no secret China is fast outdoing the United States in terms of trade with the African continent.
I once read a tweet by @SokoAnalyst that said: “Most of us are tolerating injustice, unfairness and deceit from our leadership because we are silently benefiting from the same leadership.”
Well, you could see how China’s non-interference policy plays well into that saying. I certainly hope the U.S. will not pretend to be deaf to some pertinent issue just to secure its dwindling trade partners across Africa.
But as a Kenyan citizen, that quote resonates deep into our socio-economic setup. There are those of us who pretend to be deaf and blind to the wrong things the government is doing, and will come out like angry wasps ready to defend the state. There are those of us who feel locked out of the government programs since we are deemed to support the opposition, and the election winner takes all.
Both of the pro- and anti-government supporters all suffer from the same problem, which must be addressed if all-inclusive and meaningful development is to be achieved. We all must drop the following ways of thinking and doing things:
Most public leaders start off with a noble cause in mind. They want to change the status quo, make right all the wrongs made by the corrupt government of the present day or the past. But soon after ascending into a leadership position, they fast stop thinking with their heads and start thinking with their stomach. They find their fellow leaders making a fortune by stealing public lands and embezzling public funds and enriching themselves and their close relatives. Fighting corruption and doing the right things becomes the hardest things to do, and stealing and embezzlement of public funds becomes the easiest thing to do. Because that is how the system works, and to make right all the wrongs will be like swimming upstream against a very strong current.
The system is not that entirely bad, once in a while the law might catch up with these corrupt and thieving leaders. But as soon as one is put to account for their actions that clearly goes against the law, they call upon their tribal cocoon. The tribe then comes together and start viewing everything from a tribal angle, and then narrative such as these: our tribesmen are being targeted. Forgetting when the said leader stole and benefited from the said public land and resources, the benefits only went to him or her alone and not his tribesmen.
We have seen many times where the law has caught up with criminal leaders, and they soon call on their tribes and play the tribal card. Pitting one tribe against another, and due to the unwarranted mistrust and misconceptions different tribes have against one another, amnesia sets in and the topic changes. The topic was leader X was caught doing act Y, which is illegal. But now the topic has become tribe Z wants to destroy us by taking away leadership positions held by our tribesmen, and for that reason we must maintain leader X.