Lessons from Barack Obama’s visit to Kenya and Ethiopia: Part One


THE recent visit to Kenya and Ethiopia by the United States (US) President, Barack Obama, is of interest to all of us for a number of reasons.
Our interest in Obama’s visit goes beyond the obvious fact that he is black but that he is a powerful politician whose voice is listened to by all and sundry because he is the leader of one of the most powerful countries on earth.
Obama became the groundbreaking icon, representing countless possibilities about how we could transform our lives!
But the Obama who visits his father’s land in 2015 and who visits Ethiopia as well is someone more or less unrecognisable compared to the Obama, the mega star-cum merchant of hope who became president of the US in 2009.
The Whitehouse has changed him so much that he sounds like any other white president of the US.
And here is how and why?
On the eve of his flight to Kenya Obama made the following statement before a BBC correspondent who had asked him why he was visiting African countries allegedly notorious for their human rights abuses.
He responded: “When we combine blunt talk with engagement, that gives us the best opportunity to influence and open up space for civil society.
“We want to make sure we are there, so that we can have this conversation and point in a better direction.”
On the surface the statement sounds well meaning, but upon further reflection Obama betrays a key aspect of the American global strategy to penetrate and manipulate other non-Western societies by using sponsored civil society activists who in turn propagate ideas deliberately designed to subvert the character and integrity of local traditions and their accompanying values and practices which are considered hostile and or unhelpful to Western interests.
Obama’s argument is that the US should not ostracise, but engage those societies which are different in their value systems from those of the West so as to gain more influence and control.
Put differently, Obama is saying we have to get close to people of these different societies in order to ‘put fire under their feet’ until they come to accept our Western values as their values as well.
As far as Obama is concerned Western ideas are better than African ideas and he is going to Africa to point the ‘right’ direction that Africa should follow. Reading between the lines of what Obama says to the British correspondent one senses an arrogant imperial assumption which says that the West knows best about what is good for Africa and that the same West has an obligation to shout about it.
Because he expected his audience in Africa to be different from that of the West and probably not advanced enough to discern nuances and complexities of his lectures on human rights and good governance, Obama decided to be ‘blunt’ during his insincere dialogue with Africans and their leaders.
Why insincere?
Because at the end of the day, Obama believes the West has a right to dictate the direction that Africa should follow!
Put differently, the man who returns to his father’s homeland is a kind of new apostle of the West hell bent on preaching the more or less fundamentalist gospel of the West.
In fact it is the same intolerant Western logic which informs Obama’s gospel on gays and lesbians!
During his stay in Kenya Obama tried hard to convince all of us that Africa should accept the deviance and decadence of the West and embrace homosexuality, under the banner of human rights.
To his credit and much to the relief of the whole continent, President Uhuru Kenyatta responded firmly to Obama by saying: “There are some things Kenyan culture and society do not accept.
“The fact remains gay rights is not an issue uppermost in the mind of Kenyans.”
What is frightening about the West is its inability to accept that different societies are entitled to their value systems and worldviews. There is a disguised intolerance of other views and principles. This kind of intolerance which borders on the dogmatic is what motivates Obama to insist on opening ‘up space for civil society’ in societies different from those of the West.
It is obvious that the strategy of opening up space for civil society in non-Western societies is meant to implant Western ideas, and to propagate them all over the so-called backward societies preferably using locals who blend well with other locals in those societies.
This is the same strategy that Obama has recently decided to apply in defining the US relationship with Cuba!
The approach is devastatingly simple: get as close as you can to these societies and undermine them from within, preferably using some of their own people!
In the above context the civil society that Obama mentions becomes an extension of the US State Department, an arm of US foreign policy, the ears and eyes of US establishment, the unofficial, but strategic monitoring system of the US, with a mandate to carry out surveillance on all discourses about governance issues pertaining to Africa and the so-called ‘Third World’.
American and or Western-sponsored civil society activists become our judges, with power to suggest and recommend to the US and the West, who should become our heroes and our villains in Africa, and who should become our leaders and so on!
The sponsored civil society activists also decide who should be supported financially by the West and who should not, who has good ideas for the re-colonisation of Africa and who has not, who should be praised and who should be demonised!
This kind of civil society is meant to operate like a parallel structure to the elected government of the day, unelected by anyone, but unilaterally constituted by the US and its allies for the purpose of safeguarding and promoting Western interests.
Because these sponsored activists are deliberately selected to function as if they are part and parcel of our society, they constitute the organic fault-line which weakens our nations from within.
Their other function is to legitimise and vindicate the wholesale lies told about us by our Western detractors in order to make our states more vulnerable.
In return the activists receive the proverbial thirty pieces of silver!
Zimbabwe has gone through such experiences during the past 15 years and it is a miracle that it is still standing!


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