The meaning of King Charles' tour and our response to Gaza

What brings King Charles here 70 years after Treetops is not nostalgia, but the common future Britain has with Kenya in the new emerging international order. This common future and this visit now forces Kenya to choose its future between the alternatives of Chinese domination in contrast to the present order of faltering (but being re-worked) domination by Britain and its allies, (together constituting 'the West').

Britain and its allies are in search of other allies, now needed afresh, to redraft the current order to the same ends but with added partners, added beneficiaries. Whether we will be 'added' beneficiaries or true beneficiaries is up to us.

Africa's trade with the rest of the world constitutes 3 per cent of international trade. And Africa's collective military power, amounts to an even more minuscule fraction. Thus, Britain and its allies, including the US and the EU, are not wooing Kenya and Africa for our military capacity.

But Africa collectively has other assets now needed by the West in this contest for retaining global political and military power. Prominent among these assets are strategic minerals, oil, the legitimacy of political votes in international fora, including the United Nations; and lastly and most importantly, the imprimatur of Africa's approval for the West's 'ideals' of an international order beyond only the West's own interests.

This will only be forthcoming when those ideals are the shared ideals of 'the West' and the Global South, which includes Africa, Asia and South America. This also needs to create a stable set of agreements to resolve conflicts and the avoidance of destabilisation in the areas which possess these assets, which are also a key to African social and economic advancement.

By this visit Britain is asking us the most serious question of the next 50 years: Will you join us and be part of a dominant West/Global South, or do you want to join China in a subordinate non-partnership?

Britain deserves a serious answer. To give that serious answer we must ask ourselves: What are Kenya's ideals? What are the West's ideals? What are the Chinese ideals for the 'Belt-Road Initiative', which is the practical prelude to the future they have drafted?

Last week, we began to answer Britain's questions in the sketchy form of three minutes of oral formalities: President William Ruto welcomed British partnership in an omnibus way. Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga stated certain shared values.

This was a good beginning. But on which the present government needs to start detailed work with select cross-bench unity as displayed by the Ruto-Odinga remarks. This task is the meaning of Britain's State Visit to Kenya last week.

The second critical issue was Kenya's response to the events in Gaza. It was critical because our response was silence. What was Africa's response? Africa collectively had no response. It therefore exerted no collective influence.

What that underlined was not that Africa does not have anything to say on this. Its interests and stands were clearly at stake. What it underlined was that Africa had not spoken with one voice, to bring the continent's heavy influence to bear.

This would then be allied with our many national statements. We were not negotiating at full strength. This displayed yet again that we have not brought African unity to the optimum practical effect.

African unity is not a utopian aim. It is a major strength, a major bargaining counter, for us to protect ourselves. And beyond it, to project our demands. Not demands, as in the past, for corrupt handouts to our corrupt 'leaders' of the day, and a resultant servile obedience to directions, Western or Chinese.

But our demands for our correct place and share on the table. We have to work on African unity for very practical purposes. This task is the meaning of our silence on the Gaza events last week.

-The writer is senior counsel