Opinion / Politics

Kenya: Obama’s ‘dead-beat’ dad.

Obama The Musical

Obama The Musical: A story of a Kenyan American told in Dance, Music, Narrative and Song

by Nelima

I am a Kenyan and a number one supporter of Obama. And yes even I get carried away sometimes and wonder if Obama could possibly be my uncle by some complex relationship through my dad’s grandma who is said to partly belong to the same tribe that Obama’s biological father hails from. Then I think, what if it was true? Then what? Nothing. Because plain and simple; Obama is as Kenyan-American (as he is now being called) as Oprah is Liberian-American. Similarly, Obama is as Kenyan as he is Muslim. Obama’s parents separated when he was two, divorced when he was four and Obama’s dad showed up in his life only once when he was about 10. In his best seller “Dreams from my Father” (not Realities from my Father) Obama seems to be the one reaching out to Kenya and not the other way round . 

At a recent conference called ‘The Obama Effect’, in his presentation Edwin Okon’go suggested that Kenya is like a dead-beat dad to Obama. The one who claims the succesful child even though this success is not in any way a product of their relationship. I whole heartedly agree. Somehow this whole ‘Obama-son-of-our-Kenyan-soil’ scenario reminds me of that very common attitude in Kenya where good, successful children have inherited the genes of their father and the others ones were definately of their mother. There have been numerous expectations of Obama in Kenya and they contunue to grow even among Kenyans living in the U.S. Understandably poor Kenyans at home have lost hope in their leaders and it instead of calling for change from President Raila and Prime Minister Raila Odinga they are looking to Obama. Talk about the ‘Audacity of Hope’. Well what if Obama doesn’t deliver? Will they be upset? Will they reject him again?

On that note I urge my fellow ‘wananchi’ to support Obama, not because of what he can do for Kenya, but for what he will do for the U.S and the world.


9 thoughts on “Kenya: Obama’s ‘dead-beat’ dad.

  1. Nelima says: “Obama is as Kenyan as he is Muslim”
    -Not really. I agree on the premise that Obama is neither Kenyan nor Muslim, however, these two identities are parallel.
    Islam is a religion, so for one to be Muslim one has to ascribe to the faith, and its practices. On the other hand, one’s ancestry in terms of nationality and race have nothing to do with what you feel or think.
    Makes sense?

  2. I personally think that nationality has a lot to do with what you feel or think. Case in point. My sister and brother were born here (probably have lived more of their life in the US), but spent their formative years Kenya and whenever asked where they’re from they immediately answer Kenya. My neighbor at home is Indian, but believes he’s Kenyan. One of my professors at the U believes she is Senegalese – despite having first gone to Africa in her late teens or early twenties. Similarly many people born in Liberia here would consider themselves American before Liberian.

  3. Certainly, Obama is American, and not Kenyan, that is not my argument. All I am saying Islam is religion which he doesn’t profess, but his roots are part Kenyan.

  4. Regardless where he is claimed, I’m glad he is Black. As that he is African. We can all claim him. And regardless of the outcome of the election, he’s done us all proud.
    Is he Kenyan? Well, he is Black. I think that is Kenyan enough.

  5. That was my pan-african answer. Now, for the real 2 cents.
    Heritage is something stronger than experience. I feel what Nelima said about her siblings. Though it seems the reverse is true for her neighbor. On a personally note, I was born in Guinea, raised as a Guinean in Sierra Leone (and later in America), I don’t speak Frech well enough to be a “proper Guinean” but whenver people ask me, without hesitation I say Guinea. I don’t know why, it’s just programmed in my blood I guess.
    But is Obama just Kenyan in blood, and not heritage? Could be. There is more to instilling your heritage in your offsprings than simply dropping them couple of chromosomes. I think his Kenyan dad didn’t do anything to make him Kenyan. Though I suspect Obama feels more Kenyan than he can afford to let on. America does that to you.
    I still say he is Black! And that is Kenyan enough.

    By the way, wonderful job with the blog. I love it!

  6. I am ashamed reading about people pressing ideas of Obama as Kenyan , speaking as though he should be recognisant of his ‘roots’. The truth is Obama is as much kenyan as McCain is Zimbabwean. To simple put it Obama doesnt owe Kenya anything, I feel, for the Kenyan people to even dare to assert such is quite frankly riduculous as audacious considering that his ‘biological father’ wanted nothing to do with him (a common irresponsible trait amonsgt african males) Obama reaching out to Kenya is simply a scholastic exercise most well-off African Americans indulge in …no different than say Oprah or micheal Jackson tracing their roots back to Africa. Obama in no way portrays any moral traits of his ‘biological father’ and hence should not be ‘dubbed’ a kenyan. Obama is his own man, made in America with the aid of his loving grandparents. Obama is the manifestation of the current times in the US, he is the voice of the future that carries the message of a new era.We are listening to him people from all races, from all corners of the world drawn to a common land for the same reasons; Freedom and opportunity for those who want to sacrifice; all americans, African-americans, Americans from Africa and all others inclusive. The mere proof of this will be revealed at the end of the elections as we have seen glimpse of what he is made of from the repeated ‘pumbling’ all through the tough race.

  7. Word of advice, I had the exact sentiments as expressed within these comments before I came back to Kenya.

    I support Kenyans, who support Obama, even though some of them have false hopes. Kenyans love politics, but most of all Kenyans are reaching out for fair politics and it only comes in the name of Obama ,who is of partial Kenyan descent, and American democracy.

    Instead of shutting down our people, let’s applaud their sense of support which comes from all ethnicities; Luo, Kikuyu, Luhya, Meru, Kamba etc. We’re regrouping but most importantly, we’re learning about equality and the end of marginalization of ethnic groups.

    For once, Yes, Maybe we can learn something from the West. We just needed someone with a simple tie to our Kenyan community!

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