In 1976 Richard Ntiru penned one of his famous poems: Introduction, in which he chided Africans over the manner we often view people. We judge people by what they put on and not for what they are, the title to us is more important than the person. In the 3rd stanza, he wrote:
‘Society is a market stall
And men, goods on display
Where the label is more important than the labeled
And price more fascinating than the value.’
Now that society is the Kenyan one.
Obama is has come right? But let us rewind to 2012/13, you would think Kenya was a super power of Russian mettle sparring with the US. Then Obama was a no-body as far as issue of the crimes against humanity cases that were facing some of Kenya’s politicians were concerned, Americans could as well have their hotdogs and stick to their football which is not real football anyway and let a sovereign state alone.
It is funny when you come to think of how we easily forget. Quite often we Africans have always treated visitors to all sorts of make-believe happenings around when they come calling. Children are told to be in their best behaviors, hell, some are known to have traits bordering night runners but are banished to far away relatives homes or sent to carry errands to some long distant aunt’s or uncle’s places such that by the time they come back the visitor is long gone.
That is what we have done with the Obama’s home coming. It is a culture though befitting visitors often hides some of the shortcoming we have in our homes but which we are reluctant to accept. Just look at the open lie that is the so called Nairobi streets beautification program. Dr, Evan Kidero just embarrassed himself and his government with work done hurriedly!
The near hysteria and frenzy with which everyone scrambled to get a piece of Obama is an all too familiar trend with which the Africans view the rich relatives and the big man whom hitherto they treated with the disdain that only a mongrel can be given. There is enough evidence of these in Obama's own words.
"It was time for me to catch up with relatives...some whom i did not even know existed...some of the explanations about the relationship were very lengthy," he said
Even our mainstream media is suffocated with it, nay drunk. It is the big man syndrome that has made Africans go into some gibberish antics whenever politicians visit their dusty villages and make the gullible poor vote pedophiles into power without having a second thought then turn around to claim the Politicians are either corrupt or dictatorial, a thing we are currently experiencing with the governors; not that Obama is in the same caliber of African politicians. Obama here features with a different line of thought all together. Let’s go can cutting…
The behavior of Kenyans towards Obama’s homecoming (in fact Obama's visit was simply an official visitto Kenya, as he said then and again) fitted perfectly into the mantra that in politics, there is no permanent enemy; there are only permanents interests. At the moment our interests are not about what china has to offer; in fact I saw a number of them being rounded up by the security a few months ago seing as they were the new investors to take Kenya to Canaan.
We put aside all about the Global Entrepreneurship Summit that was held at the United Nations office in Nairobi on Saturday on 25th July 2015 and concentrated to a near mass hysteria to Obama’s car and his relatives more than what he has come to do.
In retrospect what makes me angry is the absurdity of such behaviors. Did you read that some fellows from Kanyathiang, formerly South Nyanza, are claiming Obama is marwa-ours, laying a stake on Presidents Obama, yes you read it right President Obama. Don’t get confused, they too are in good company as those of my relatives, real and day dreamers in the plains of Kano or in between the slopes of Muhoroni and somewhere in Arusha Tanzania. Born by a mother who divorced and remarried elsewhere, I was raised by grandparents who later on gave me to their daughter, my aunt, who never gave birth; I have often found myself in the same quagmire of all sorts with the so called relatives claiming me whenever I visit home.
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The very people who rejected me after my mother remarried and later passed on (they even buried her without giving me a chance to view the body) are now claiming a piece of me as one of their own. My uncles claim to have raised me; my late aunt’s people too are claiming I am theirs.
Looking at the happenings around my life and that of Obama now, I can’t help but notice one familiar similarity: In Africa you are only of worth to your relatives, known and unknown just because of your wealth or the influence you have. When Barrack Obama came to Kenya as a senator, no government official then of Mwai Kibaki was willing to associate with him. Lead by the then government spokesman Alfred mutua and Beth Mugo, the government functionaries had no kind words for the skinny senator from Illinois.
Then came the ICC issue, and Jubilee politicians and their supporters’ went ballistic over the West stand on the matter, it is therefore incongruous to hear they are the ones now milking Obama’s visit to the last tin only to look good.; International PR!
As the son of Kogelo breezes in, this is my massage to Jubilee government and their supporters:
‘You are in good company for even can cutting is an occupation’