Obama’s Balancing Act in Kenya [analysis]

At the halfway point in US President Barack Obama’s Kenya-Ethiopia trip, J BROOKS SPECTOR looks at the larger meaning of this trip for America’s relationships with Africa.

Twenty years ago, a young Barack Obama, on the verge of his first political campaign for an Illinois state senate race, published his real life bildungsroman, Dreams From My Father.

The book chronicled his life up to his entry into Harvard Law School and it provided a thought-provoking description of his trip to Kenya so that he could come to grips with the tenuous but persistent legacy of his father’s Kenyan origins and on his own circumstances as an American, an African American, and a man with a potent but virtually unexamined African heritage.

Over the years, Obama has made the occasional visit to Kenya but it is only now, in the sixth year of his presidency, that he has finally returned to that nation as part of a two-country visit along with Ethiopia.

Some in Africa have been waiting impatiently for this moment but this particular visit comes at the end of a week in which Africa has been a major focus. There was Obama’s signing of the renewal of the African…