The announcement that the American President Barrack Obama will be visiting Kenya in July this year, is the best example of the definition of news in real time. Given the kind of opposition the American government had shown towards the election of Uhuru Kenyatta as Kenya’s fourth President, the announcement came as a surprise to many. Perhaps this is the reason why a section of Kenyans were adamant to give any comment until they were sure about it.
Coming just days after the International Criminal Court (ICC) had cleared Kenyatta of the crimes he was facing at The Hague based institution, the announcement raises questions on whether America has foregone its “choices have consequences” remark towards Kenya and Kenyatta.
It also comes after Kenyatta gave a stern warning to all senior government officials implicated in graft in the country – among them Cabinet Secretaries and Governors – to resign and pave way for investigations. Actually the other question that Kenyans may want to ask, even if for the grapevine, is whether ‘Big Brother Obama’ had a say in influencing the decision taken by the President.
And as we wait for the July 2 day visit, Kenyans will be waiting to see how Kenyatta will make history as the only Kenyan President to ever host a sitting American President.
Yet this alone is not the reason why I think Kenyatta ticks. Far from it. If the 53 year old whose name means ‘Freedom’ was to be awarded it will be on how he has managed to demystify the seat of the Presidency for us.
To start with it is with Uhuru that most Kenyans have come to know what it means for a country to have a ‘First Family.’
When a good number of us opened our eyes Daniel Moi was Kenya’s President. But Moi did not have a woman we could officially identify as his wife. Therefore we did not know who a ‘first lady’ was during his time although we got to know about his children.
Moi was succeeded by Mwai Kibaki, whose wife Lucy Kibaki, did not stay long in the public lime light. We also got to know Kibaki’s family but there was this constant talk about him having another wife who he would often deny in public.
So during Moi’s and Kibaki’s time the office of the first lady was not as active.
But in Uhuru’s time we have seen a first lady, Margaret Kenyatta, who is youthful and energetic. She even participates in cross country events and through her you feel you have a mother of the nation you can identify with. And when she takes part in such events the President usually comes out to wait for her at the finish line, if only to embrace and congratulate her.
A year ago Uhuru was hosted for a meal in Kajiado while on his road trip back from Tanzania. He almost took the meat on the grass. Who would ever imagine a President doing that, or even travel by road. And the other day he was caught on camera singing the a song by Sauti Sol.
All this and many more makes you feel, for the first time, that the Presidency is not as mysterious as it was meant to look some years back.
His challenge now is to live the talk. His simplicity one should hope, will trickle down to all the government offices and officials. The President must be seen to act on the directives he gives and fulfill all his promises. It is with this that we hope the fight against corruption will not be relented or end up as a public relations ploy.