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Africans Should Not Expect Special Treatment From President-Elect Obama, Says a Kenyan Professor


Barack Obama, the son of an African man from Kenya is now the president-elect of the United States. But is there a lesson that African electoral politics, often dominated by tribal affiliation can draw from the coalition that helped propel Obama to victory.

Professor Egara Kabaji, senior lecturer at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology in western Kenya said there are lessons that African politicians can draw from Obama's victory.

"The fact that an American of African descent has been elected in the U.S., it calls for a kind of celebration because of the fact it demonstrates clearly that the American society is mature enough not to go for the skin color at the moment but to look at the character of the person that they are electing. So it is definitely a kind of wake up call to Africans in Africa to actually rise above the petite things that they look at when it comes to election," he said.

Kabaji said politics based on tribal affiliation continues to dominate elections in some Africa countries.

"Definitely we have very serious problems because we narrow down and we start looking at very simplistic element and we start asking which tribe and so on. And that is why the Kenyan scholar Ali Mazrui asked a very nasty question some time last year: Which country would be the first to elect a Luo as a president? Will it be the U.S. or Kenya? He was asking this of our kind of politics. We tend to look at the tribe of the person. So one of the things that I want to say is that the United States of America has actually demonstrated that it is possible to rise above this and actually get the best candidate to elect for any office," Kabaji said.

He said Africans and Kenyans in particular should not expect a special treatment from President Obama all because of his African descent.

"Barack is definitely an intelligent leader. I know that he will definitely choose the right path in terms of making it very clear to African dictators that he is not going to wine and dine with them because he has certain physical attributes. Barack Obama will definitely have to cultivate a no nonsense tongue with African dictators. Even for us in Kenya, let us not actually imagine that Barack Obama is going to wine and dine just because there is some connection between him and Kenyans," Kabaji said.

Kabaji said Africans should try to emulate the ideal that President-elect Obama believes in.


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