Kenyatta Criticized the West in the Past, Now He Wants Their Help

05/27/2015 02:45 pm ET | Updated May 27, 2016
Uhuru Kenyatta/Flickr

After perfecting the tried but tired blame-the-white-man meme that some Africans in the diaspora accuse African Americans of doing, while preaching nationalism and Pan-Africanism, President Uhuru Kenyatta jettisoned said pride and jingoism by seeking help from the same "wazungu" or "white men" Tony Blair and John Podesta to help Kenya "deliver" on its flagship projects and burnish its tattered international image respectively.

In an admission that choices do indeed have consequences, Mr. Kenyatta sought the services of the powerful lobbying outfit, the Podesta Group led by former White House staffer and Beltway insider John Podesta to polish the image of a country that displayed classic Stockholm syndrome symptoms by electing into office two individuals accused of fomenting the tribal-fueled violence that held the country hostage in late 2007 and early 2008.

President Kenyatta also sought the services of Anthony Blair's African Governance Initiative (AGI) to oversee "delivery" of mega-projects such as Konza Techno City and the Lamu Port South Sudan and Ethiopia Transport corridor (LAPSSET) with minimal "eating of chicken." This particular decision by Kenyatta's Jubilee Coalition was a stark and blunt reminder that underscored the silliness of the post-election narrative:

That the era of mega-corruption in Kenya is over because Mr. Kenyatta has his own money.

The two decisions are rich with irony for a president and country that collectively wrapped themselves in nationalism and jingoism by transforming Johnnie Carson's "choices have consequences" caution into a bludgeon with which to hammer their opponents -- real and perceived -- into submission in the 2013 elections.

Kenyans are finally waking up to the reality that corruption and impunity is continuing to happen right under President Uhuru Kenyatta's nose, make that his office, as evidenced by recent scandals implicating persons working in his office. And rather than report them to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) for investigations, Mr. Kenyatta transferred them from the Office of the President to other positions in his government! Additionally, Mr. Kenyatta's deputy and fellow crimes-against-humanity suspect Mr. William Ruto is rumored to be one of the "Singhs" who "own" the piece of land that birthed images of Kenya's Selma and Soweto -- state-sponsored brutality against school children!

To put it bluntly, the fish rots from the head on down. Corruption in Kenya has always emanated from the very top, beginning with its first president Jomo Kenyatta. It is now so pervasive that the president who romped into office by excoriating the hypocrisy of America (Podesta Group) and Britain (Tony Blair) finds himself turning to them for help!

In an ode to Henry John Temple's prescient take on relationships between nations, hiring Mr. Blair, someone whose appearance at The Hague Mr. Kenyatta and his sycophants have repeatedly called for, to "deliver" i.e. mitigate "eating" on mega-projects turns on its head Mr. Kenyatta's claim that the reason for Africa's mediocre and erratic development is the "stiff resistance by those who benefit from a divided Africa."

Africa's mediocre and erratic development has little to do with the "stiff resistance...." (whatever that even means) and everything to do with the inability of the likes of Mr. Kenyatta to confront the scourge of corruption and impunity even when it is happening right in front of them. His decision to bring in hired guns from countries he has repeatedly accused of hypocrisy and worse completely rubbishes the claim that "Africans are better placed to solve their own problems."

In the piece titled "Forget foreign intervention, Africans are better placed to solve their own problems," President Kenyatta writes that former Ghanaian president, Kwame Nkrumah advised Africans to combine "...their numbers and resources to protect themselves from the very positive dangers of returning colonialism in disguised forms."

I offer a different take on Mr. Kenyatta's interpretation of Mr. Nkrumah's advice.

Colonialism has many variants, of which the one perpetrated by the Europeans and Americans is but one. The basic mechanics of "the establishment, exploitation, maintenance, acquisition, and expansion of colony in one territory by a political power from another territory" i.e. colonialism has not changed since the "wazungu" started "leaving" Africa in the late '50s.

In 1967, Jomo Kenyatta's nemesis Jaramogi Oginga Odinga offered the rather foretelling analysis regarding the mutation of colonialism in his book "Not Yet Uhuru." Kenya's first bona fide opposition leader offered the view that "Kenyans (were) still struggling to prevent (fellow) Kenyans in black skin... from ruling as successors to the administrators of the colonial era."

As previously indicated, I have always believed that Mr. Kenyatta pushed the Pan-Africanism message less out of altruistic nationalism and more to save himself from the crimes-against-humanity charges he was facing at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Now that the charges have been withdrawn and the president and his government have demonstrated their collective incompetence, Mr. Kenyatta can stop being so reflexive AND reticent about asking for help -- even from the hitherto pariah -- the West.