We did not create Obama. The United States did. As Kenyans celebrate, we should be aware of this fact. Repeatedly, Obama has said that his story could only happen in the United States. We have to understand how leveling this implicit critique is. Only in the United States could an Obama thrive and become president-elect.
Right now, Kenyans continue to grapple with the effects of the post-election violence (PEV). We are caught in the grip of its after-shocks—some communities are still being told to “move back” to their ancestral lands; we have not yet found a solution to the IDP problem; and our politicians continue to wrangle and, in doing so, to endorse and affirm our culture of impunity.
Our joy over Obama’s success should be tinged with shame for who we are and what we are doing and not doing. Our joy over his success should be modulated by the realization that we have not yet produced our own Obama.
We need to be introspective and evaluative, to be aspirational rather than simply celebratory.
In a talk yesterday, Bethuel Kiplagat phrased it this way: we are so proud of Obama’s success. We need to be careful that we do not make him ashamed of us.