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The Nairobi declaration spotlights art of naivete in defining Africa future

Peter Kimani
 President William Ruto led other delegations in adopting and announcing the 2023 Africa Climate Summit resolutions at KICC, Nairobi. [Silas Otieno, Standard]

This has been such a strange week, when Prezzo Bill Ruto drove himself to work in a small, electric car, while his able Deputy Rigathi Gachagua aka Riggy G decided to take a walk. No explanation was offered for the shift, nor how long they would stick to this new, transport arrangement.

It’d be a shame if we never saw them in that mode again. Hopefully, Riggy G should keep walking because it’s good for his health. And someone should tell him he doesn’t need a retinue of aides to walk with him. Let them do something they’d enjoy that early, other than watching a grown man walk!

But please allow me to state upfront how impressed I was by the Nairobi Climate Summit. I liked the pomp and the colour that punctuated significant moments at the three-day fete. That’s what they call a taste of “African hospitality” in international circuits, even though we are 55 countries. One dash of colour is adequate representation for over one billion folks.

We have more bragging rights: it was the first time that such an assembly took place on Africa soil in 30 years. That’s particularly significant for folks with a low esteem.

It seems enough that someone important visited, and it calls to mind a yarn spun by Chinua Achebe. When a rich man gets sick, he wrote, the poor man arrives to say pole. When the poor man falls sick, he waits to recover then visits the rich man to enquire if he’d heard he was unwell.

One might add that it is the first time since 1884, when European powers assembled in Berlin to share Africa among themselves, that the same chaps descended on an African capital with braggadocio, and in broad daylight.

They had previously creeped in and out quietly, fomenting a rebellion here, orchestrating a coup there. Here’s the thing: Europe and America would be nothing without the material, cultural and spiritual wealth unlawfully extracted from Africa and Asia for 500 years.

I did not use the term “stolen,” in keeping with the spirit of Prezzo Bill Ruto, our magnanimous leader who has committed to prematurely send sugar barons to heaven, if they can’t fit in prison or go into exile.

When it comes to the US and Europe, it does not matter who did what in the past. All we care is that we have turned a corner. We reckon that a bigger threat than ourselves could subsume our species. And unfortunately, heaven isn’t big enough to accommodate us all.

Some of us may have to join the sugar barons in exile, looking for gainful employment in Europe and North America because Africa is the youngest continent on earth and the welfare state in the North requires young blood to keep the taxes coming, to prop their elderly and ailing population.

So, after taking our brethren centuries ago, and colonising our kin 100 years ago, our children shall be deployed to their service, yet again.

“Afro-optimism,” is the big term I heard Bill Ruto use as he read the so-called Nairobi Declaration, which was surprising as he’s not a student of history. Actually he’s got no use for history, as he directly reminded that he doesn’t care about the South-North divide, presumably as the rift between the two has been healed through a combination of earnest prayer and goodness of the heart.

Our Prezzo said he’s optimistic that the climate financing pledges made this week will positively impact the job market, where unemployed youth lurk, even though he had promised to sort the same through the Affordable Housing levy.

I am surprised Prezzo Ruto did not pressurise the United States, one of the worst polluters on earth, to make mandatory contributions towards his Housing project. Instead, the US received more funds to sort its own environment.

It’s a safe bet we’re getting noticed on the global stage for unprecedented naivete. Since we’re unable to define Africa’s self-interests, let’s defer to Europe and the US to plan our future, as they did in the past.

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