Local media reports on the United States Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Kenya may have grossly misled the VP by alleging that there was much anticipation amongst Kenyans to know President Barack Obama’s administration’s stance over the Proposed Constitution of Kenya.
Kenyans were certainly not waiting to hear what they already know – that there are various urgent reforms required and that to this end we have as a first step a good constitution that has the potential to propel Kenya to greater heights of economic prosperity – but were eager to hear what measures are in place or being put in place by the Obama administration to afford Kenyans genuine relationship with Americans.
Kenya is fast maturing politically. The ongoing conversations over the proposed constitution form healthy debate, semblance of political dialogue in the making of American constitution; and essential in any democracy.
Kenya is not at war and does not therefore need unsolicited opinions over whether or not the proposed constitution is good. That it is the product of Kenyans’ views and has been spearheaded by Kenyans in its preparation, guarantees to us that we do have a good constitution, without the need for a reminder from our good neighbors.
The struggle of minds in un-packaging the proposed constitution and pursuing other Agenda 4 reforms is good for our socio-political development. It is for this reason that we take great exception with the misleading media hype prior to the visit and the most recent insinuation that Joe Biden has backed the proposed constitution of Kenya, as though Kenyans adopting the constitution is in any way dependent on this.
The proposed constitution is a tool meant to empower and unite Kenyans. Divisive actions and pronouncements will only serve to deduct from the progress made in this regard. Kenyans do not need the manipulative overtures of donor conditionalities pegged on passing the proposed constitution and neither is it expedient to feed ammunition to the retrogressive forces to bolster their unfounded assertions that the proposed constitution is a foreign document.
What Kenyans want to hear from the Obama administration is how the United States of America intends to dismantle trade barriers in order to promote free trade and fast track the consequent empowerment for Kenyans to facilitate and steer their own development efforts.
Kenya is not interested in foreign aid as it is common knowledge that aid is a neo-colonial tool that has never developed any country. We are most skeptical about foreign investment since the proceeds of these investments will always be repatriated to the mother country of the capital with little or no benefit to show locally. We want free trade arrangements that will allow us to sell our chicken, cassava, mangoes and sugarcane in New York and Washington.
President Obama should busy himself with doing away with protectionist policies that deter free trade between us in order for us to board the Pride of Africa to the land of opportunity to do business. We do not want situation where Americans can invest in Kenya while Kenyans cannot invest in the US. We do not want to know, in Joe Biden’s words: “what Americans can do with us” but we want what we can do for each other. A mutual and symbiotic relationship is what we want from the people of America. This is the message that Kenyans would have loved to hear from Obama through Biden.
That said, we appreciate Joe Biden’s visit and we hope that somewhere in his meeting with the “who is who” in Kenya someone told him what Kenyans and Africans hope for from the Obama administration.
My fellow countrymen and women, let us remain steadfast and interrogate the proposed constitution in order to individually assess its merits, wisely un-package the alleged contentious issues and, come the Referendum date- August 4th, show up and vote by our numbers for the change we can live in.
By George Nyongesa,
Bunge la Mwananchi, Kenya.
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