Njoroge Wachai at PostGlobal

Njoroge Wachai

Kenya

Njoroge is a journalist who formerly worked for the Kenya-based People Daily. He was Africa Correspondent for the Science and Development Network (SciDev.net), a UK-based web site highlighting science and technology issues from developing countries. He also freelanced for the Switzerland-based Bulletin of the World Health Organization (WHO). Njoroge was a press fellow at the Wolfson College, University of Cambridge for four months in 2003, where he researched the role of alternative press in the democratization process in Africa. Njoroge currently lives in the U.S. He has studied Journalism and Technical Communication at the graduate level. Close.

Njoroge Wachai

Kenya

Njoroge is a journalist who formerly worked for the Kenya-based People Daily. more »

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Kenya Should Learn From Obama

Following Barak Obama's long predicted and historic victory, there has been joy and jubilation across the globe. From Latin America to Asia, from the Middle East to Africa and Europe it's kubaya. A new dawn has descended where those who hitherto loathed the U.S. will now embrace it.

Following Barak Obama's long predicted and historic victory, there has been joy and jubilation across the globe. From Latin America to Asia, from the Middle East to Africa and Europe it's kubaya. A new dawn has descended where those who hitherto loathed the U.S. will now embrace it.

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez who once called President Bush a "devil" has already sent signals he'd like to mend fences with the U.S. The autocratic Islamic Republic of Iran hopes the U.S. will change its foreign policy and stop "invading" other countries. Russia hailed Obama's election but swiftly went into saber-rattling by announcing plans to position short-range missiles close to Poland to retaliate the U.S.'s plans to stage anti-ballistic missiles there.

Perhaps, there's no place in the world where Obama's victory has been emotionally uplifting than in Africa, which is the focus of this article. Obama has strong African roots. His father (deceased) is from Kenya.

Africa has every reason to boisterously uncork champagne bottles to celebrate Obama's victory. Hasn't "their man" conquered a mountain that many thought he couldn't mainly because of the color of his skin? Definitely yes!

But beyond bragging about Obama's victory what lessons can Africa learn from Obama the man? Those who closely watched Obama battles John McCain in the campaigns can attest to the former's coiffed personality.

By his own admission Obama confessed racially-raced expletives being hurled at him at basketball courts and other public places. We heard Obama being labeled a pal of terrorists, a socialist, and a communist. Some of his opponents, in a naked exhibition of racism, proudly waved posters with his last name prefixed with the letter N to make it read Nobama.

Some even shouted "off with his head", "kill him." In the face of this hostility and hate, at no time did Obama exhort his supporters to retaliate. He never urged his supporters to bear arms and confront his attackers. In fact Obama took every insult hurled at him in strides. Rather than rally his strategists to furnish him with the vilest of words to throw at his opponent, Obama did the opposite. He, in virtually every gathering, effusively praised McCain's service to the country.

These are some of the precious lessons Africa should learn from Obama. The best way Africa can celebrate Obama's victory should be for African leaders to fill up to the plate and promote democracy and respect for human rights in their respective countries. They should embrace the values that Obama stands for and use such to improve the standards of living of their people.

I find it ironic that Kenya, for instance, has chosen to declare a public holiday in honor of Obama, instead of first bringing to justice the masterminds of chaos and killings that engulfed the country after last year's presidential elections.

You all recall Kenya had its own presidential election last year. During the campaigns, innocent people died from violence masterminded and orchestrated by leaders who're now singing Obama praises. The worst happened after the actual vote. President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga could not agree on who won the election. What followed was a catastrophe of historical magnitude. Their supporters went on a killing spree. About 1,200 innocent lives perished as these two leaders wrestled for power.

A report, by a respected judge of Kenya's Supreme Court, Philip Waki, has since been released revealing that Kibaki and Odinga were privy to some of the killings that took place. Sadly, these two leaders are reluctant to endorse the implementation of the report because their core supporters, some of whom are serving in the cabinet, have been mentioned in it.

I bet Obama would not condone leaders who use violence for political gains. Since Mr. Kibaki and Odinga have openly expressed their admiration for Obama, isn't it rational that they align themselves with his values? One of these values is justice for all. The relatives for the 1,200 who died in January this year and half a million people who were uprooted from their homes are still waiting for justice. Rather than declare public holidays and sending congratulatory messages to President-Elect Obama, I'd advise these two leaders to immediately call for the implementation of the Waki Report. This is the best way to honor Obama.

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