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