, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 2 – When US President Barrack Obama skipped Kenya on his 2013 tour of Africa, Apinjo Apenga a.k.a Shimonzero Mwenyewe from Busia took it personally, “an unwise move,” to put it mildly.
The International Criminal Court case facing President Uhuru Kenyatta, he felt, was not reason enough for Obama to bypass his, “home country,” where he would be gifted a chicken to take back with him to America.
The way in which the previously unknown Shimonzero Mwenyewe articulated his argument earned him close to 146,000 views on Youtube as of Friday. Watch: Obama skips Kenya; a frustrated Kenyan responds
But the argument itself, two scholars told Capital FM News on Friday, had proved itself to be of merit given the invitation later extended to President Kenyatta to attend the US-Africa Leaders Summit beginning Monday.
The two International Relations scholars, Professor Maria Nzomo of the University of Nairobi and Professor Macharia Munene of the United States International University, concurred that the Summit evidenced recognition by the US that its at-arms-length relationship with Kenya and the African continent in general was unwise.
Unwise because it gave the, “friendlier,” China and India a leg up over the US on a continent where, “eight out of the top 10 fastest growing countries right now on the continent of Africa,” US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield admitted on Thursday.
“The West used to have a monopoly. So that monopoly has been broken and they’re getting very worried about it. That’s why they keep on saying oh you Africans are being cheated. Because the access that was previously denied to the Asiatic powers to the African raw materials is now open,” Munene held.
The US government has insisted that it welcomes Chinese investment on the African continent and that the US-Africa Summit was not in response to it, but National Security Advisor Susan Rice did remark on Wednesday that:
“Africa has strong ties with other regions and nations, but America’s engagement with Africa is fundamentally different. We don’t see Africa as a pipeline to extract vital resources.”
And any plans to exclude President Kenyatta in its engagement with Africa, Nzomo and Munene continued to argue, would have proven unwise given the solidarity the African Union has displayed where his ICC case is concerned.
READ Uhuru notably on Obama list for US-Africa talks
State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu on Friday said the 50 African states expected to attend the inaugural three day US-Africa Leaders Summit beginning Monday, were looking to, “engage President Obama as a bloc on how they would like the US going forward.”
One of the reasons, he added, they had all accepted the US invitation to the summit.
But while the African bloc would be going into the Summit in a strong position, the individual nations were, “trooping,” and, “falling over themselves,” Munene and Nzomo said respectively, for a taste of its proverbial milk and honey.
Something Kenya has made no secret of, “The ambition of the projects envisaged implies large financing and investment needs. Consistent with Kenya’s commitment to private-public partnerships, these needs present diverse opportunities for investors in the USA, looking to participate in Africa’s rise,” Esipisu said.
The fighting against terrorism, Nzomo added, is another reason African nations cannot afford to alienate the US.
Regional peace and stability, Esipisu said, forming part of the agenda the African bloc was looking to engage the US on.
China traditionally, Nzomo argued, hadn’t actively concerned itself with East African stability but with their Premier Li Keqiang pledging their support in the repatriation of Somali refugees, even that, as have been the US terms of engagement with Africa, could be set to change.