President Obama’s Message to the People of Kenya
February 5, 2013
Habari yako. Over the years, I have been greatly moved by the warmth
and spirit – the strength and resolve – of the Kenyan people. And I’ve
been grateful for my connection to Kenya, and the way you’ve welcomed
me and my family to your beautiful country – from my father’s village
in Alego, to bustling Nairobi.
In my visits, I’ve seen your progress. Kenya has lifted people from
poverty, built an emerging democracy and civil society, and sustained
a spirit of hope in the face of great difficulty. After the turmoil of
five years ago, you’ve worked to rebuild communities, reform
institutions and pass a new constitution.
Now, Kenya must take the next step in March, with the first national
elections under your new constitution.
We all know what makes for successful elections. Kenya must reject
intimidation and violence, and allow a free and fair vote. Kenyans
must resolve disputes in the courts, not in the streets. Above all,
the people of Kenya must come together, before and after the election,
to carry on the work of building your country.
The choice of who will lead Kenya is up to the Kenyan people. The
United States does not endorse any candidate for office, but we do
support an election that is peaceful and reflects the will of the
This election can be another milestone toward a truly democratic Kenya
defined by the rule of law and strong institutions. If you take that
step, and reject a path of violence and division, then Kenya can move
forward towards prosperity and opportunity that unleashes the
extraordinary talents of your people – especially young people. If you
continue to move forward, you can build a just Kenya that rejects
corruption, and respects the rights and dignity of all Kenyans.
This is a moment for the people of Kenya to come together, instead of
tearing apart. If you do, you can show the world that you are not just
a member of a tribe or ethnic group, but citizens of a great and proud
nation. I can’t imagine a better way to mark the 50th anniversary of
Kenyan independence. And I say to all of you who are willing to walk
this path of progress-you will continue to have a strong friend and
partner in the United States of America. Kwaheri
There is something surreal about the President’s message to Kenyans as the country counts down to chaos. The latest surprise is that $209 million apparently due from the UN to reimburse Treasury for KDF expenditures in Somalia is being withheld pending an AMISOM audit; the GOK seems to have “planned” to use this money to finance general elections on March 4th! The GOK is hoping to hold elections without money and without a functioning national police service; Mr Obama hopes that the GOK -the people of Kenya- will not let him down! I think that it is long overdue for President Obama to address US Citizens living and working in Kenya about how their government is working on their behalf as Kenya goes into the deep end of the pool? Hey, Americans in Kenya are people too!
Yes, that news on the budget was very disturbing–it really is amazing that we are less than 30 days to the election and the basic means to pay the expenses of the exercise are apparently up in the air. It also raises the question of what else has not been said about the GOK’s readiness.
President Obama genuinely spoke from the heart directly to the people of Kenya; he bypassed Kenya’s politicians and appealed to people to vote for their country on March 4th. Paradoxically his message highlighted the paucity of leadership in Kenya. Fifty years of independence largely free of civil strife, military coups, natural disasters and external threats and there are no national figures standing above the fray or perceived as having clean hands. The President appealed to the masses to exercise enlightened self-interest and to put the greater good before individual or group gains when going to the polls. In America Obama is an example for young voters because he transcends race, class, religion and family and his election to national office shows that our system does work albeit imperfectly, slowly and in fits and starts. In Kenya nice guys finish last and anyone taking the long view whether in politics or business is seen as a deluded loser who has lost the plot. Nice try, Mr. President!
Yet another wild card: with 26 days to go the death by violent means or in mysterious circumstances of just one presidential aspirant or even one candidate for the number two spot will delay the elections for 60 days! And not for nothing but the IEBC has yet to gazette the locations of the 33,000 polling stations; that is merely a detail since the IEBC only procured 30,000 electronic voter ID kits?