A Kenya Daily called The Daily Nation (October, 27, 2019) ran a fine article by professor Makau Mutua on the issue titled “Kenyans at home hate those in diaspora but love their money.” I don’t intend to replicate the same. Although Makau put Kenya on the spotlight, sadly, the situation is the same in many African countries. After reading this well-written piece full of nuggets of wisdom, I educed former US president Barack Obama. If Obama were Kenyan, he wouldn’t have become president of Kenya. This is because African countries do not wholeheartedly entertain dual citizenship, especially those bearing it are viewed as a threat to the status quo.
In Makau’s piece, Mwende Mwinzi, a Kenyan with dual citizenship, was denied the right to represent Kenya to South Korea simply because was born in the US to an American mother and a Kenyan father like Obama. I remember. When Obama was elected a senator, Kenya went wild with joy because one of its own was elected to serve in the government of the very powerful country. I remember how we used to drink a beer known as Senator, named after Obama, not to mention hearing about the stories of many children, schools and whatnot named after him.
Let us face it. Had Obama decided to follow his father to his native land of Kenya, I don’t think he’d have become a gem. This makes me wonder why Africans let themselves down and thereafter blame it on colonialism. Obama would not have clinched presidency in Kenya simply because he’s not Kenyan enough just like Mwinzi.
The hatred against Africans with dual citizenship is the creature of colonial dregs that Africa needs to rid itself of. Denying Africans with dual citizenship opportunities to serve their countries in political capacities is racism just like Afrophobia in South Africa where Africans are referred to as kwerekwere or foreigners in their continent despite the fact that many African countries contributed heavily to the liberation of South Africa. The countries denying their citizens with dual citizenship the opportunity to serve their countries don’t do so to the monies the same remit in billions to their countries.
How long will this racism prevail in Africa? It is not easy for an African to travel across Africa while it is super easy for Europeans and Americans and others to do so. African countries prefer to trade more with non-African countries than their sister African countries.
If we critically examine the history of the demise of Africa, especially through corruption and embezzlement of public funds, wo are the kingpins of this crime? Do they have dual citizenship? Who were masters of Goldenberg, Anglo-leasing, Dams, Unga and others? Were they Kenyans with dual citizenship? Patriotism is about one’s contribution to his or her country as opposed to criminality and sheer fear.
How many Asians have multiple citizenships but are not disturbed when it comes to offering them lucrative tenders obtained by the ways of kickbacks and criminality? Again, who bothers with such partners who do not involve themselves in politics? The answer is simple that, in Africa, politics is a booming business that needs to be protected at all cost especially through the law of exclusion of true citizens and inclusion of carbuncular ones.
Africans with dual citizenship aren’t welcome to political tables because most of them enjoy high exposure to the world that African politicians envy and venerate. They are also difficult to get rid of when things become rancid. This reminds me of the scandal in Tanzania in 1993 wherein Chanda, an Indian with multiple citizenship, was implicated in many stinking mega scandals involving bigwigs at the time. Guess what. When the truth started to emerge, the fat moggies implicated along with Chanda rose to the bait; and thereby decided to toss him by deporting him to cover their tracks. It worked. The major reasons for denying Africans with dual citizenship the opportunities to serve their countries revolve around corruption, duplicity, colonial dregs, envy, fear, myopia and the like.
Africa should stop internalising internal colonisation. Africans with dual citizenship, as was in the case of Obama in the US, must be constitutionally and legally enabled. It is their right, to serve their countries in political capacities.
By Nkwazi Mhango
The author is a lifetime member of the Writers' Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador (WANL) and author of over 20 books.