By Jeanne Ongiyo
News that the President of the United States of America will be paying a courtesy visit to Kenya in July 2015 was undoubtedly received with great glee and anticipation among all Kenyans and mostly by the government. This comes following claims that Barack Obama allegedly snubbed Kenya when he visited Tanzania, whose capital is less than an hour’s flight to Kenya, in June 2014 and failed to pass by neighboring Kenya in the course of his journey. He later on stated reasons why he could not visit his father’s homeland at that time following outrage and uproar from aggravated Kenyans who took to Twitter to voice their opinions. Obama’s planned visit to Kenya is probably one of the best things set to happen in the country after the subsequent terrorist attacks that have been witnessed in the course of this year.
Most importantly, Barack Obama’s long awaited visit to Kenya will affirm the leadership in Kenya owing to the fact that Obama is considered the most powerful President in the world. It will also improve the political status of Uhuru Kenyatta, the President of Kenya, whose election into office was marred with allegations of being involved in the 2007-2008 post-election violence. The President of the United States is just one of the leaders who top the list of influential leaders who are presumed to have snubbed Kenya owing to the fact that the serving President was an International Criminal Court (ICC) inductee set to face trial at the Hague for alleged crimes against humanity. Other prolific leaders who seemed to have followed suit are Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, who in a meeting in London allegedly refused to have his photo taken alongside Uhuru Kenyatta fearing a backlash if the Kenyan leader was found guilty of the ICC charges.
Aside from benefiting leaders, Obama’s visit holds promises from the whole country at large. By virtue of the most powerful President visiting Kenya, trade and other economic activities will flourish in Kenya and this will also lead to increased investors showing interest in the country. This visit will highlight the potential capabilities that Kenya has as well as the various fields of economic growth which potential investors may like to venture into injecting some capital that will in turn develop the relevant sectors. President Obama’s visit will also foresee increases business opportunities for local manufacturers who have since time immemorial been taking advantage of visits of prolific guests to earn from the sale of branded merchandise. From branded t-shirts, posters as well as calendars, local manufactures are sure to smile all the way to the bank before and a while after Obama’s visit.
There are however a number of predicted hitches that are likely to occur once Barack Obama steps on Kenyan soil. Since he is the President of the United State who equally requires experts and the best security forces available to safeguard his livelihood, security will be heightened throughout the country with specific emphasis on the Central Business District and Nairobi in particular. Heightened security is good but let us all just hope that this will not be an excuse for the police to harass innocent Kenyans at the expense of performing their duties effectively. The Kenya Police has been in the spotlight on numerous occasions for the wrong reasons attributed to the excessive force they use in the bid to ensure law and order.
Hillary Clinton’s visit to Kenya in August 2012 foresaw the breakdown of most if not all communication networks with important services like M-pesa not functioning for sometime. This was in the bid to heighten security be ensuring that important information like internal communication from the security team is not leaked out exposing the prolific guests to potential harm. Now, that was just the Secretary of State and the man of the hour, the President of the United of States is definitely scheduled to make the situation more hectic than it was. If the same case applies to President Obama’s visit then businesses like Mpesa will face great losses during the duration of his stay in Kenya. Traffic jam in Nairobi will probably also be kicked a notch higher with a motorcade and a fleet of cars escorting Barack Obama from the airport all through to his final destination which will most probably be State House Nairobi.
All in all, Kenyans far and wide believe that Obama’s visit will do us more harm than good and it will also elevate our sense of pride and prestige with the world’s most powerful President finding a sense of identity with the country as one of the places where he traces his roots. We are sure to reap maximum benefits from this visit than any other African country possibly would at this time in age.