Friday, 4 January 2008

Is Obama American, Kenyan or a Luo Tribal man?

Amid all the gloomy news from Kenya about shootings, tribal killings and genocide, there's news of a different kind coming thousands of miles from the Kibera slums of Nairobi.
It's the story of an American Dream about to fully come true ( and this story has got a Kenyan link) It's of none other than that of the Great Black Hope - Barack Hussien Obama!
Just before the Illinois Senator won the Iowa Caucus, Lynn Sweet wrote an interesting piece in his hometown paper about the direction his foreign policy experience (or lack of it) could take.
But while America and the rest of the world are savouring this moment with him, and contemplating what might be the beginiing of a long march to the White House, Ms. Sweet has situated Obama's first main diplomatic intervention within a tribal Kenyan context by saying : I understand Obama has to be careful because while he is one of the most credible figures the United States has to deal with Kenya, the dispute between Odinga and Kibaki is mired in tribal politics. Obama, very aware that Kenyans may see him as a Luo in this context, does not want to be seen as taking sides. (Raila Odinga is sitting in the photo above)
Obama has staked his identity as a plus over experience in burnishing his foreign policy credentials. Could this identity now prove to be his undoing in dealings with Kenya & Indonesia where he has family ties? Will he be seen as taking sides?
I wonder how Newsweek's Editor, Fareed Zakaria will respond to this seeming rebuttal of his expert claim that identity trumps experience in foreign policy dealings.

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