How big is Kenya’s image problem? Well, pretty large. This beautiful and well-endowed country is the birthplace of Obama’s father, yet political strife, official corruption and the whiff of terrorist movements made the U.S. president scratch the country from any list of possible destinations on a brief Africa trip this month. Obama instead chose Ghana, a peaceful west African country where the American president is wildy popular. In a speech t0day in Ghana, Obama managed to avoid naming Kenya at all, even when describing his father’s childhood as goat herder. Obama’s Dad, in a reflection of the importance of the brand named “Africa,” comes from Africa — everywhere and maybe nowhere. Or perhaps Obama didn’t want to deflate his Ghanaian hosts by invoking a rival African country. Indeed, West and East African often vie for supremacy at international meetings, on the faculy of American universities and, of course, in their own regions. Rare is the West African who succeeds in East Africa; and the reverse is true as well.
Jul 11 2009
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