In an opinion article published by Politico Magazine, Robert I. Rotberg a Fellow at Woodrow Wilson International Center puts up a rather shallow and hearsay dominated argument against US president Barrack Obama’s visit to Kenya scheduled for July this year. In the piece, Rotberg tries to portray Obama’s first tour of his fatherland as a dangerous and risk laden escapade out of which the US Head of State has minimal chances of coming out alive.
However, a more critical analysis of the piece reveals numerous inconsistencies and poorly researched on half truths about the socio-economic, security and political situation of Kenya.
First and foremost, Rotberg lacks up to date information concerning Kenya cases at ICC. He seems to be stuck with the popular Occidental rhetoric that Kenya’s president is still indicted by the ICC, a situation that changed months ago when the Hague based court dismissed the case against him. The judges exonerated President Kenyatta from the 2007/2008 violence funding accusations.
Secondly, Rotberg claim that East African countries are wildly corrupt can only be interpreted as malicious and outrageous. Otherwise,
Thirdly, the seemingly educated guy seems to have very limited knowledge of the ethnic dynamics of the Kenyan societies. Whereas ethnic animosities have occurred from time to time, there is still a strong fabric that holds the Kenyan society together as a nation. Whenever the need arises, Kenyans shelf their ethnic identities and work together for the common good. I can confirm without an iota of doubt that the news of President Obama’s visit have been received with jubilation across the ethnic divide. This is because Kenyans don’t perceive Obama as a Luo; they see him as a son of Kenya.
Fourthly, why would anyone be worried about the personal security of President Obama who has several times stronger security team than that of President Kenyatta? If Kenyatta and the other three Kenyan presidents have been safe in Kenya, why would Obama be unsafe? By saying that planning for the trip early is giving Alshabaab time to plan, is Rotberg suggesting that the Secret Service is weaker than the Al Shabaab?
In addition, Rotberg seems to be worried about the financial implications of Obama’s visit in Kenya yet necessary consultations occurred between the two governments involved on the same before the trip was settled on.
Rotberg also suggests that it is the Americans who fight the real war in Somalia against the Al Shabaab. What he fails to understand is that the battle against Al Shabaab had been lost by the West until Kenya Defence Forces moved into Somalia.
Furthermore, he gets it all wrong by suggesting that there are more ideal nations to visit in Africa than Kenya. If anything didn’t Bloomberg, an American company rank Kenya third among the 20 fastest growing economy in the world?
In conclusion, Rotberg seems to be scared by the increased Chinese presence in Kenya. Therefore, instead of advising his president not to visit Kenya, Rotberg should be giving Obama strategies to counter Chinese invasion of Africa. After all, he is an intellectual in a leading institution!