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Barack Obama and the Sins of the Father

Submitted by mwakilishi on Tue, 09/25/2012 - 17:28

Dinesh DSouza, a conservative American author, has found a gold mine in exploiting Obamas Kenyan roots. He is making millions with his 2016: Obamas America documentary, which portrays President Barack Obama as a socialist who owes his radical left-wing beliefs to the influence of his late father, Barack Obama Sr. DSouza travels to Kenya and interviews George Obama, President Obamas half-brother who lives in a Nairobi slum.

DSouza, probably reading too much into President Obamas memoir title Dreams from My Father, argues that the President is on a task to implement his fathers ideology of anti-colonialism and anti- Americanism. The anti-colonialism claims stem from DSouzas logical stretch that, since Winston Churchill was the British Prime Minister during a crackdown on the independence movement in Kenya against the British colonialists, during which Obama Sr. was arrested, President Obama must hate this guy.

George Obama, the Presidents estranged half-brother, apparently requested and received $ 1,000 from DSouza to cover for his sons hospital bills. DSouza, who couldnt help vaunting about it on Fox News , wrote that before I hung up I asked George, Why are you coming to me? He said, I have no one else to ask. Then he said something that astounded me, Dinesh, you are like a brother to me.

George was probably not aware that DSouzas pharisaic act of charity was only meant as propaganda to disparage his powerful half- brother. DSouza uses his misfortune to depict the President as a hypocrite when he says that we are our brothers keepers. He extrapolates quotes written by George to portray him as a conservative. George, according to DSouza, differs from his father and half-brothers anti-colonial view that blames Western colonial exploitation for the poverty and suffering of the Third World. However, in a later interview , George seems to disagree with DSouzas claim that Barack Obama has neglected him, arguing that the American president has the immense task of taking care of the world, and in effect taking care of him.

By using George to magnify discord in the Obama family, theres no doubt that DSouza will stop at nothing while he digs for dirt on his president. His nuanced portrayal of Kenya as a primitive country in his film and writings- through the images of rickety huts and dirt roads, as well as the imagery of polygamy, African paganism and extreme poverty- is nothing new when Western lenses focus on Africa. However, what I find most deplorable in DSouzas work is the notion that Obamas fathers anti-colonialism is something to be condemned.

Obama Sr., after enduring severe beatings and spending six months in jail in 1949 for seeking his countrys independence, had no reason to adoringly muse over British colonialism in Kenya. Anyone with basic understanding of African history knows that we are not sitting under our huts fondly reminiscing about the days of colonialism as DSouza would have us do. There is nothing to crow about when hundreds of thousands Kenyans were raped and killed in forced labor camps, when families were displaced and disintegrated, and where victims of British torture and brutality live with broken limbs but also with a resilient spirit that justice will one day answer the door. Colonialism left a reprehensible legacy in Kenya and Barack Obama Sr., like any other Kenyan I know, is justified in his antipathy. If anti-colonialism is the reason behind DSouzas deep prejudices against President Obamas father, then he has a whole country to reckon with.

DSouza, again misrepresenting George, seems to argue that Africa developed more while it was under colonialism. Proponents of such views always forget that the so-called development during colonialism was just an unsustainable infrastructure with the raison dêtre of syphoning African resources to Europe. There is an opportunity cost in living under the yoke of foreign servitude for as long as Kenya (as well as many other African countries) did. But we are not a lazy, bitter population that blames Western colonialism for our poverty and suffering as DSouza would like to depict us. Kenya, despite many hurdles of corruption and bad governance since gaining its independence in 1963, has recently been making piecemeal steps in economic development. This trend can also be seen in other African countries.

As Kenyans, we wont be voting in Americas 2012 presidential elections. We therefore remain unapologetic about our anti-colonialism views, which are not changing in order to appease American conservatives and making Barack Obama more electable. Barack Obama Sr. was Kenyan, Barack Obama Jr. is American. He is running as an American and DSouza therefore uses Obamas Kenyan ancestry as political fodder to vilify him, while dancing on Obama Sr.s grave (in his film, he literally stops short of doing that). I think all Kenyans deserve an apology from Mr. DSouza for his disrespect, but I wont be holding my breath.
By Michael Mungai - Co-founder, Harambee USA, Inc.
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This article was originally published on the Huffington Post

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