It’s back to our bad ways after Obama’s visit

The grass was well watered, trees were pruned, streets were swept clean of hawkers and street urchins, and the faded walls of old buildings were freshly painted. Flags were also swapped in an orderly manner and leaders across the political divide got strangely civil and friendly.
Some of the roads had to be closed bringing the entire Kenyan capital, Nairobi, to a standstill. US President Barack Obama was coming home. Kenya is not alone in this massive sideshow since it was the same script in Tanzania last year when the US President visited. The country’s administration embarked on massive revamping of infrastructure.
Ethiopia also tried to conceal their dim view of the press by releasing journalists and bloggers who had been rotting in the country’s jails ahead of Obama’s visit. Their charges were trumped up and lumped together as “terrorism”. You see, once you criticise the Addis Ababa administration you might be labelled a terrorist. The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is almighty and nothing less, or so they think.
“Assuming I was a teacher grading students on their report cards based on these preparations for Obama, I would give them a strong ‘A’ complete with this remark, “Exemplary performance this term given the previous poor grades. Promoted to the next class”.
“All these events made me think of the rich African culture of welcoming guests. It is a culture of simply giving the best to visitors. The best dish is prepared and served only when the visitor arrives. Heshe also gets to sleep on the fine linen. If it were a rural setting, children would be asked to abandon their bed for the guest and sleep on the mat.
“While I agree that it is a good tradition in Africa of treating the visitor with dignity and superiority, what I don’t buy is when we outdo ourselves in front of guests and turn to our old ways when he or she leaves.
“Brother Barry
“We all want an orderly city everyday with all systems in place for us to lead better lives as citizens of a country. This does not have to wait until a visitor comes. The eagerness to impress makes me wonder why the government has failed to heighten security of its citizens who are regularly attacked by extremists and bandits. I don’t want to mention marauding gangs who strike various homesteads at night here and there, but I will another day.
“While the safety of our brother Barry is important, deploying 10,000 police officers to beef up security in Nairobi during the visit sharply contrasts with the lackadaisical response to the Garissa University massacre by Al-Shabaab that left 147 students dead.
“All that our governments need is to be answerable to taxpayers before extending this lovely hospitality to the rest of the world. I don’t think there is any citizen who enjoys living in an untidy city. Systems need to be in place whether the West comes knocking on our doors or not. We should not let tribal politics in Kenya hijack gains of democracy since the leaders we have at the moment are exploiting tribal loyalties.
“Questions begin to arise when people from one region in the country dominate state appointments. What happened in Kenya in 2008 highlighted that tribalism can indeed drive a country to civil war and its perpetrators need to be met with the force that is deserved.
“At the end of the visit, the only place in Kenya which remained true to its ugly old self was the “county of social media,” where tribalism took centre stage as some members of two major communities decided to take a jab at each other during the iconic visit. Our depressing politics based on tribalism took over.
“Apart from fighting graft, the government could also focus on providing the infrastructure and services to all, especially those marginalised, to make them feel part and parcel of this country. Security also needs to be restored and the tribal warmongers should be jailed and keys thrown away to act as a deterrent to others who might want to use that as a blood-letting opportunity.
“So with Obama gone, let’s get back to addressing our pressing issues since we have already sent an above-average report card to the West. We are hoping the country at large will remain orderly and more secure as it was when Obama visited.
“Twitter: @JanetOtieno