When I heard that the US had fired off letters to 15 high-flying Kenyans warning them that they faced possible travel restrictions to America I was outraged. A mere warning? I had expected to hear that the individuals and their families had in fact been BANNED from travelling anywhere in the world, let alone the United States.
But I was equally livid when President Kibaki broke his studious silence to tell Barack Obama that he was unhappy with the threat issued by the US.
Both Kenya and the US appear to have missed the point.
If the Americans deem it very necessary to bar those perceived to be anti-reform from their soil, I have some advice for them. Those so-called prominent Kenyans have most likely enrolled their children in your good schools and universities. If you want to teach them any lesson, their families should be included in the travel bans. I can bet our insatiable politicians will resist any temptation to rush to tribal weekend rallies to tell us they care little about travelling to the US. Touch their families and you will see some sobriety.
Merely telling us that America has issued threats is of no significance to us. The US (and Britain) should be bold enough to help us seize assets that have been acquired corruptly and repatriate them for the benefit of Kenyans.
Over now to Kibaki’s reaction:
Our good President has never been known to flinch even when issues that require his intercession have engrossed the nation.
I can think of a few off the top of my head. A while back, there was a landslide in Kakamega. I expected the President to say something. He eventually did but it had nothing to do with the landslide. He took the trouble to tell us he had one wife and a family of I don’t know how many.
Just last week, 33 not-so-prominent Kenyans were massacred in Samburu and our good President did not find it necessary to say anything publicly.
His reappointment of Justice Aaron Ringera is now threatening to cripple the operations of the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission, yet he chooses to remain silent.
He was upset that the United States did not follow protocol when issuing the travel threats. The President’s Press Service nonetheless found it ‘diplomatic’ to send press releases detailing his displeasure to Mr Obama.
Why didn’t they keep in step with international protocol and protest in diplomatic fashion? (read out of the public domain).
Those prominent Kenyans have been telling us all week that they do not care whether Obama has blacklisted them. Why then does the government find it necessary to send a protest letter over the action?
Why does Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula find it necessary to summon the American envoy to discuss the matter when those affected have told us they don’t give a toot?
I heard one of those on the list say he does not have a constituency in the US.
See how trifling the matter is?
Just let it go and let’s get on with our lives!