African nations no longer need lectures from the US

2021-01-26 11:35:56
African nations no longer need lectures from the US

In 2010, during the administration of US President Barack Obama, then US vice-president Joe Biden made an official visit to Kenya.

Kenyans had come to Nairobi to listen to Biden. The red carpet was unrolled, the hall was packed and security was tight, Kenyan journalist Waihiga Mwaura wrote in an article for the BBC.

"I hope what I am saying doesn't come across as lecturing," he said.

"I am not," he insisted. "But too many of your resources have been lost to corruption and not a single high-ranking official has been held accountable for these crimes."

At that time, the US was considered by some as a beacon of democracy and the rule of law. But a decade on, a lot has changed.

Former President Donald Trump, through his policies, words and actions, tarnished America’s image abroad, not least his reported dismissal of African countries in highly derogatory terms.

President Biden will, in the light of the last four years, have to address Kenya and the rest of the continent in a markedly different tone and with a markedly different message.

Examples of how Trump steamrolled norms, and thereby tarnished the view of the US, are too many to write in one article.

But aside from his numerous failures as president, the events of January 6, when Trump's supporters stormed the US Capitol, showed that this went beyond one man.

Five people died as the protesters attempted to stop a joint session of Congress to certify Biden's election victory, leading to accusations that the outgoing president was attempting a coup.

The world watched in horror as scenes only witnessed in “less developed democracies” unfolded before their eyes.

Kenyan newspaper editors were not alone in describing the events as "chaotic" and "shameful" - and calling Trump "disgraced". And terms like "banana republic", "failed state" and "fragile democracy" were thrown the way of the US.

Biden takes over in the White House with the knowledge that the world no longer respects the United States in the same way.

And this could have implications for governance across the continent. African leader no longer hold the US in awe and will find it easier to dismiss concerns about democratic processes.

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