Nov 27 2008

the Obama delusion: the case of Kenya

Category: Uncategorized<ADMINNICENAME> @ 7:37 PM

I was in Nairobi on Election Day, getting the news of Obama’s victory surrounded by jubilant Kenyans who view our new President as a brethren. Because I wore on my vest an Obama-Biden button, I received a great deal of love from strangers. I’ve made 30 visits to Africa since 2000 and yet this last visit was the most emotional. America seemed indeed a land of redemption and hope for the many Africans whose paths I crossed over three weeks in three countries (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania). The intense focus on Obama and his achievement of course resonates for Africans from the standard of racial and ethnic pride. However, there is a sobering side to the African infatuation with Obama, which I explore in a new essay for Foreign Policy. In essence, I argue that “Obamania in Kenya has gone on for years now, but the hype isn’t just about the president-elect’s roots. Rather, Kenya’s Obama fixation seems to represent a kind of escapist fantasy for an African country beset by political dysfunctionality.”

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