The front page of today's newspaper tells us a lot about Kenya I think. At the top of the paper is a big headline which reads: Free Obama Calendar Only in the Nation. And sure enough, when you flip to the middle of the paper, there is a large one-page calendar from November 4th, 2008 to November 4th, 2009 and an enormous picture of Barack Obama. There are still quite a few articles and op-eds about Obama's big win and what it means for the US, the world, and Kenya specifically (as my father asked, "Has the boat arrived to bring all of the Kenyans to America yet?").
And then, on the same front page of today's paper, the bottom article is titled: Villagers lynch 11 robbery suspects. The article proceeds to describe, in detail, how a village near the oast was being tormented by gangsters and didn't feel the police were doing enough about it so a group of villagers captured the gangsters themselves and publicly lynched them to death...and then had a party to celebrate.
This dichotomy on the front page of the paper in which you have an extreme symbol of freedom and justice alongside images of extreme cruelty and lawlessness is the ultimate problem in Kenya. Kenya is a country that so desperately wants to uphold democratic values and ideals and wants to be a shining example for other developing nations, in Africa especially. And yet, throughout the country, Kenyans are still overwhelmed by acts of corruption, violence, and tribalism. The Kenyans celebrating Obama and wanting to claim rights to all that he has become are the same Kenyans celebrating the practice of lynching which goes against the very core of everything Obama is and represents today.
It makes me happy that Kenya is so happy these days about Obama's win and the possibilities of hope they have for the future because of him, but it makes me sad that Kenyans can't see that they are not on the same path as him and that they have a long way to go to get there.