Let’s ask the questions again: What if Barack Obama comes to Kenya – his fatherland- when he completes his term as President of the most powerful nation on earth? What if he wants to be the President of Kenya? And what if he actually becomes the President?
What kind of President would he become? What kind of country would Kenya become? Would it become industrialized, tribalism-free, corruption-free …the most powerful nation on earth?
In Israel we have an example. Returning home with skills, education, technological know-how and ideas they had acquired in years of sojourn in industrialized countries of the West, the Jews have transformed a country that was practically a desert, to a thriving, affluent, technologically advanced nation.
But for the people of Africa, history does not provide us such encouraging examples. Long time ago – in the 1920s – many African American returned to Africa under Marcus Garvey’s idealistic “Back to Africa” movement. They founded the West African countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia fashioned after the United States of America. Unlike the Jews however, there is not much that we can see in these countries that can be attributed to the skills, technological advancement, education and wisdom of these latter day “colonizers.” What we see are wars, destruction, death and misery as the “colonizers” struggle to keep an unearned privileged position.
A parallel story in Kenya shows the positive difference such “returnees” can make in Africa. It shows that, unlike other Africans, Kenyans have a commitment to the families, to their country, just like Obama has demonstrated to all and sundry, his pride of being associated with Kenya.
The story concerns Frere Town at the Coast of Kenya – a small area where rescued and returned slaves where settled. These returned slaves had a chance to get an education and other skills. And within a few short years of existence, Frere Town became the engine of development and transformation, spreading its influence throughout the length and breadth of Kenya.
James Mbotela, was one of them. His dream to transform Kenya through education is well known. He traversed the Kenyan upcountry, encouraging the construction of schools and African education, at a time when all native Kenyans had to be enticed with free sugar and blankets to go to school.
By his action – his love for his Fatherland and support for the African family values whose story he never concealed or tired of telling, even at the risk of losing the presidency of the world’s most advanced nation – Obama would gladly follow Mbotela’s example. That is why in his recent visit as President the United States, he expressed regret that he could not freely mix with Kenyans – walk up and down the streets of Nairobi, eat nyama choma and ugali – the foods that say ‘you are a true Kenyan’ “I will come back!” he told Kenyans – including an array of his extended family members. “I will return!”
Barack Obama’s Vision?
So what would he return to do? Will he return to chat with his relatives under tree shades and sit in vast Kapiti plains to watch wildebeest migration across River Mara? No. Obama will not do that. He will want to get involved – to use his skills, wisdom, experience, knowledge and prestige to transform his Fatherland. He will feel uncomfortable to be associated with a country where corruption has run amok. He will feel jittery to be associated with a country where the rule of law is tribalism. He will want to see Kenya develop to a new United States in Africa – spreading its positive power and economic might all over the African Continent and beyond.
That is what Barack Obama will do when he returns to Kenya. That is what Kenya will become when Obama returns with wisdom and experience. Or how will it?