Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga
NAIROBI, Kenya – Sen. Barack Obama is positioned to easily win the presidential election, former U.S. Rep. Walter Fauntroy told participants in Kenya’s National Prayer Breakfast at the Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi in June.
Fauntroy – an African-American noted as the first congressman to represent the District of Columbia in 100 years and a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus – said an Obama victory would make Kenya the most important nation in the world, as the place where the first U.S. black president “is to come from,” elected “to teach the world how to live in the 21st century.”
Not all present necessarily felt as enthusiastic at the prospect of an Obama presidency.
The prayer breakfast was attended by Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki of the Kikuyu tribe, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka of the Kamba tribe and newly-appointed Prime Minister Raila Odinga, a Luo tribesman. Obama supported Odinga’s challenge to Kibaki for the presidency when the Illinois Democrat visited Kenya on a U.S. Senate “fact-finding” mission in 2006.
One of President Kibaki’s top advisers – interviewed by WND in Nairobi yesterday under an assurance of anonymity – pointed to Fauntroy’s remarks at the prayer breakfast as the type of “inappropriate partisan comments” that continue to reveal deep racial and tribal divisions within Kenyan politics.
Many Kikuyu politicians quietly express concerns that an Obama win in the 2008 U.S. presidential election could reverse power in Kenya, in favor of Luo tribesman such as Odinga, a perennial presidential challenger of Kikuyu presidential candidates.
Top politicians of Kenya’s largest tribe, the Kikuyu, have controlled the presidency in Kenya dating back to 1963 and Jomo Kenyatta, a Kikuyu tribesman who was the nation’s first president following independence.
Obama, a Luo tribesman by virtue of his Kenyan father’s heritage, is seen as allied to Odinga, who was appointed prime minister in a power-sharing deal to quell violent protests by supporters charging voter fraud.
Obama’s father, Barack Obama Sr., served as an economist in the Kenyatta administration, while Odinga Odinga, the father of Raila Odinga, was the nation’s first vice president.
Luo politicians openly fear an Obama presidency would add impetus to Raila Odinga’s continuing drive to become Kenyan president in the country’s scheduled 2012 election, if not sooner.
Christian missionaries in Kenya fear an Obama presidency would encourage Odinga to fulfill campaign promises by pushing to alter the country’s constitution to specify the application of Islamic Shariah law in regions dominated by Muslims.
As WND has reported, Odinga was appointed prime minister last February after he lost the December 2007 election to Kibaki, and Odinga encouraged his Luo tribe supporters to protest alleged voter fraud engineered by the Kibaki government to steal victory.
In the wave of violence that followed Odinga’s charges of voter fraud, some 1,000 Kenyans were killed and another 350,000 dislocated as mobs of Luo supporters of Odinga viciously attacked Kibaki’s supporters, primarily members of the majority Kikuyu tribe.
Muslims also attacked Christians in the post-election violence, killing some 50 in a particularly horrific incident in the village of Eldoret.
In Eldoret, a group of some 50 Christians sought refuge in a Christian church, trying to escape from a rampaging Luo mob that ultimately set fire to the church and burned the refugees to death, including women and children.
WND has also reported Odinga signed a memorandum of understanding with Muslims in Kenya prior to the December 2007 election in an effort to win Muslim support of his candidacy.
In the post-election violence, an estimated 800 Christian churches were damaged by mobs, while not a single mosque was harmed.
About 85 percent of all Kenyans are considered Christian, with fewer than 10 percent Muslim.
Islam, however, has gained a strong foothold in the Kenyan northeastern provinces bordering Somalia and along the coastal areas to the south of Somalia.
At the National Prayer Breakfast in June, President Kibaki steered clear of partisan politics, reserving his comments to expressing hope for reconciliation following the post-election violence.
“If we decide to repair the damage, we shall be able to do it,” Kibaki said. “God wants us to repair Kenya, and I have no doubt we shall succeed. Those who have little doubt, please ask for forgiveness.”