Tag Archives: kenya

Kenya: Barack Obama’s Other Change

He was the opposition leader in a country of 37 million people, one of the most stable and prosperous democracies on the continent. Initially, he wasn’t the favored candidate to run against the President, seeking the second term. However, in August 2006 his candidacy received an enormous boost, thanks to the strong help of a U.S. Senator, who spent 6 days actively campaigning on his behalf across the country. Then, in December 2007 election came, and he lost it by more than 230,000 votes. He didn’t like the result and accused the government of fraud. Hours after the election results were announced, machete-armed mobs of his supporters (predominantly Muslims) went on a broad rampage against the supporters of the government party (predominantly Christians). They burned homes and businesses, raped women and slaughtered everyone on their path. The country was thrown into its worst political crisis of the last half century, bearing all the signs of a well orchestrated genocide. Eventually, the government was pushed into negotiations — at the cost of over 1,500 lives, 600,000 displaced people and 35 women and children who were locked up in a church and burnt alive.

Today he is occupies the newly created post of Prime Minister, sharing power with the President. His name is Raila Odinga, the country he leads is Kenya, and if you don’t care about Kenyan internal affairs, you should. Because the name of the U.S. Senator who gave him that ultimate boost was Barack Obama.

It was Sen. Obama who — at taxpayers’ expense — in August 2006 spent 6 days in Kenya, going from a rally to a rally with Odinga and sharply criticizing Kenyan government. In his signature style he was cheering up one crowd after another, telling them: “Kenyans are now yearning for change”. “You will decide if your leaders will be held accountable, or if you will look the other way,” he told the crowd of thousands of students at the University of Nairobi. During these six days he received more media attention than Kenyan President, alienated the elected government to the degree that the government spokesman called him a “stooge to Odinga” in BBC interview, excited many screaming crowds — and left the country, having significantly strengthened Odinga’s candidacy as the opposition leader. International press coverage of the trip’s aftermath was not as cheerful as the coverage provided by US media. “Obama‘s Kenya ‘honeymoon’ ends abruptly” reported Agence France Presse in August 2006. “Mr Obama was made into something of a mascot by Raila Odinga” said The Economist in the article titled “America’s rising star sweeps the Kenyan primary”.

The story doesn’t end there. It gets worse. As it turned out, in August 2007 Odinga (who graduated from East Germany’s Magdeburg University in 1970 on a scholarship provided by the East German government) had signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” with Kenya’s Muslim leaders, promising certain broad changes in exchange of their support. To put what you’re about to read in perspective, you have to realize that Muslims constitute 10% of the largely Christian population of Kenya. In this document, Odinga promised among other things, to recognize “Islam as the only true religion,” to give Islamic leaders an “oversight role to monitor activities of ALL other religions [emphasis in original],” establish within a year Shariah court in every Kenyan region, and to ban Christian preaching on national broadcaster. The document also included explicit promises to disband Anti-Terror Police Unit that Kenyan government had formed to collaborate with the U.S. on anti-terrorist activities, and a promise that no Muslim, whether a citizen or a visitor, should be subjected to any process involving the laws of a foreign country (in particular any Muslim arrested for or suspected of Terrorism). In other words, Odinga explicitly promised to turn Kenya into in a safe haven for Islamic terrorism. The full text of this memorandum gives even better idea of change that Odinga planned to bring to Kenya.

Sen. Obama strongly supported a radical leader who explicitly planned to turn a close U.S. ally into a safe haven for Islamic terrorism and to turn a country with predominantly Christian population into a radical Islamic state. When this leader lost the election, his supporters threw the country into chaos and through continued violence blackmailed the President into offering their leader the role of prime minister, the de facto No. 2 in the Kenyan government. Only then the violence stopped, leaving 1,500 dead, 600,000 displaced and 35 people burnt alive in a church.

Read the paragraph above again. If you’ve been planning to vote for Sen. Obama and these facts do not concern you, you’re wasting your time reading this material. You have obviously made your choice and no fact, no matter how shocking, would make you reconsider your opinion. But if does concern you, please, spend some time getting to know Sen. Obama better before you give him your vote. Find out more, get the facts, ignore the politics, form your own opinion. And only then vote. And if you are concerned, please share this material with others. The media that in 2006 paid unusually high attention to Sen. Obama’s trip to Africa, has been as unusually silent about the trip’s impact on Kenya (with some notable exceptions such as Washington Times and New York Sun). Many bloggers have written about it, but neither Newsweek that back in 2006 reported that Sen. Obama “was received in a manner more befitting a messiah than a junior senator bearing nothing more than opinions and good cheer” nor the Washington Post, which around the same time reported that “the U.S. senator has already become the country’s most prominent ‘citizen'” have said a word about the boost Sen. Obama gave to Odinga. The trip, which before the crisis had been used for stunningly propagandistic materials such as Senator Obama Goes To Africa video, immediately lost its appeal to the media once supporters of the man so vehemently backed by Sen. Obama, went on a killing rampage. This doesn’t mean you have to be silent about it too. In fact, it means the opposite.

And what was the theme of Raila Odinga’s campaign? It was “Vote for Change“.  His motto? “Your Agent for Change”. Sounds familiar?

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UPDATE 10/23/08: Added several links; slightly adjusted the wording.