The Corner

What Obama’s “Change” Meant for Kenya

Searching through the Corner archives, other than Mark Levin’s mention here about a week ago, I don’t see anything on Obama’s troubling connection with Kenyan strongman Raila Odinga (officially, the country’s prime minister).  As Obama is marketing himself as the embodiment of hope and promise to improve America’s image in the world, one would think this relationship would have gotten more attention.  It certainly should get more attention.

Mark Hyman’s Washington Times piece is essential reading.  I’ll try to provide some highlights: 

Odinga evidently has a very close relationship with Obama.  He is native of Kenya’s Luo tribe, the same one to which Obama’s father belonged.  In fact, in early 2008, Odinga told the BBC he is Obama’s cousin (i.e., that Obama’s father was Odinga’s “maternal uncle”). 

Like other Obama connections — Ayers, Dohrn, Wright, and Mike Klonsky (about whom I have an article today) — Odinga is a socialist.  He was educated by Soviets in East Germany, he named his oldest son after Fidel Castro, and his father was the leader of Kenya’s Socialist opposition. 

The former Kenyan government of Daniel Arap Moi was pro-American.  (ACM — I can attest to this personally, having worked with Kenyan authorities extensively during the investigation of the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, which was carried out by the jihadist cells al Qaeda established in Kenya in the early Nineties.)  Odinga served eight years in jail because he was implicated in a violent coup attempt against Moi’s government in 1982.

Odinga sought the presidency in Kenya’s December 2007 election.  In 2006, Obama came to Kenya and campaigned for him, simultaneously voicing sharp criticism of the pro-American government.  His comments will sound familiar to Americans.  As Hyman writes, Obama declared, “The [Kenyan] people have to suffer over corruption perpetrated by government officials[.]…  Kenyans are now yearning for change.”  Obama’s visit, the culmination of consultations with Odinga that had gone on for years, vaulted Odinga’s candidacy.

(ACM — the outraged Kenyan government issued a rebuttal, greatly disturbed that Obama had represented that he was coming to Kenya to nurture Kenya/U.S. relations but, in fact, had used the trip as a platform to lecture to Kenya about social justice.  Obama’s interference in a foreign election, transparently designed to topple a government cooperative with the United States, comes close, to say the least, to violating the Logan Act, 18 U.S.C. 953.)

Odinga lost the election.  His supporters responded with a violent revolt, which includes mass slaughters of Christians by Muslims.  Here’s Hyman:

Mr. Odinga had the backing of Kenya’s Muslim community heading into the election. For months he denied any ties to Muslim leaders, but fell silent when Sheik Abdullahi Abdi, chairman of the National Muslim Leaders Forum, appeared on Kenya television displaying a memorandum of understanding signed on Aug. 29, 2007, by Mr. Odinga and the Muslim leader. Mr. Odinga then denied his denials.

The details of the MOU were shocking. In return for Muslim backing, Mr. Odinga promised to impose a number of measures favored by Muslims if he were elected president. Among these were recognition of “Islam as the only true religion,” Islamic leaders would have an “oversight role to monitor activities of ALL other religions [emphasis in original],” installation of Shariah courts in every jurisdiction, a ban on Christian preaching, replacement of the police commissioner who “allowed himself to be used by heathens and Zionists,” adoption of a women’s dress code, and bans on alcohol and pork.

Odinga’s fomenting of revolt worked.  Hyman again:

President Kibaki requested a meeting of all opposition leaders in early January in an effort to quell the violence. All agreed to attend except Mr. Odinga. A month later, Mr. Kibaki offered Mr. Odinga the role of prime minister, the de facto No. 2 in the Kenyan government, in return for an end to the attacks. Mr. Odinga was sworn in on April 17, 2008.

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