Barack Obama on Uhuru Kenyatta

This is from Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic:

Obama’s relationship with Kenyatta is complicated. A careful reading of Obama’s memoir, Dreams From My Father, suggests that he holds Kenyatta’s father, Jomo Kenyatta, the liberator of Kenya, indirectly responsible for his own father’s premature demise. (The elder Kenyatta, a member of the Kikuyu tribe, froze out Obama’s father, a Luo, from government service after the elder Obama complained too insistently about corruption.) And the younger Kenyatta’s association with human-rights violators has placed a question mark over his head. But Obama also believes that Kenyatta is at least intermittently committed to battling tribalism and corruption, and aides tell me that Obama will devote a part of his post-presidential years to the issue of African governance.

Instead of focusing on “African Governance,” I’d suggest President Obama spends part of his post-presidential years as Africa’s economic ambassador to the United States and beyond.

“Good governance” and “good institutions” are great. But the notion that African states have to reach zero corruption and zero rigged elections before any factories can be built is a misguided fantasy. Institutions and positive economic performance co-evolve. Good politics is not always good economics; and good economics is not always good politics. Africa, despite everyone’s apparent belief in the region’s exceptionalism, is not unique in this regard.

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2 thoughts on “Barack Obama on Uhuru Kenyatta

  1. It doesn’t have to be zero corruption, but the current rampant corruption and toothless, spineless governance institutions are not fit for purpose, and immediate improvements are needed straight away.

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  2. Ken, I totally agree; While reviewing the history of the U.S, one will clearly see that economic interests played a huge role in laying the foundations for governance. For the case of Africa I say: proper governance will only become the normal once Africans begin to own and harness the wealth of the land- only then can they seek to protect the wealth created by holding the leadership accountable.

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