25 July 2009

Obama on my Mind

So, I went down to Kisumu for the day to do a bit of shopping.  Katie and Sue were already there for a weekend by the lake and Mike stayed home.  I took the two hour trip, in each direction, to pick up a few things from Nakumatt for myself, David and Angela.  Most of all, it was a nice chance to get out for a day.  I have come to love matatu rides.  Having traveled between here and Kakamega too many times to count, I still find myself fixated on the surrounding hills.  The trip past Kakamega down into Kisumu is equally rewarding.  Descending to the lake is enjoyed best from the front of the matatu.

To finish for the day (I think), I wanted to make not of the insane ‘birther’ debate that is going on.  The NYT has an article about it today, and it has taken over my ‘Kenya’ section in Google News.  Because it is annoying for taking up article space and for wasting print in a newspaper, I will throw in my two cents.

In short, for those unfamiliar, some people are accusing Obama of being a Kenyan citizen.  Their argument is based on his inability to produce a hard copy of his birth certificate and an interview with his Grandmother where she says he was born in Mombasa.  The birth certificate issue came up in the fall, before he was elected, and Obama posted a copy on his campaign website.  It was found to be acceptable by numerous non-partisan groups (including the great factcheck.org).

With that the issue effectively died.  Sadly, the Rush Limbaugh’s of the world did not allow it to pass and have been harping on it for some time.  This was amplified with a bill that was introduced requiring a birth certificate when running for office.  (I will not waste time worrying about a bill that will not pass.  I am sure it can be found through a simple Google search.) 

The grandmother, was interviewed through a translator and corrected herself immediately upon making her statement.  Yes, it is a bit shady, but speaking to an elderly lady through a translator does not provide any sort of smoking gun.  She was provided a leading question that was entirely unfair and produced the response that the ‘birthers’ hoped.

The story continues and mainstream press begins to waste time on the issue.  What is startling is the fact that some are so bothered by an Obama presidency that they are working to prove that he is illegitimate due to birth.  In addition to more than ample evidence, the nation looking for a leader has made no attempt to claim Obama. 

Obama-mania remains in Kisumu and throughout Kenya.  I still get Obama calls wherever I go.  Being so enamored by Obama, wouldn’t Kenyans be pushing to prove him a Kenyan if they thought there was a chance.  American press makes its way here and there has not been a word.  As far as people here are concerned, Obama is an American with a Kenyan heritage.  His father links him back to the Luo people of Lake Victoria and Kisumu.  That is is connection to Kenya.

Obama is not all of a sudden cleared on this alone, but I strongly believe that this would be a major issue here.  Kenya is now fighting with Uganda over a 1 acre island in Lake Victoria.  It houses shacks for fishermen and prostitutes.  The benefit is for fishing, but it is not an essential holding.  Delegations from both countries have argued.  Uganda has placed and removed police with a flag to boot.  If they are willing to fight over one acre, they would go much further for a trustworthy leader.