"A politics that's based solely on tribe and ethnicity is a politics that's doomed to tear a country apart," said President Obama during a speech in Kenya. "It s a failure, a failure of imagination." President Obama spent the week-end in Kenya on a visit aimed to deepen U.S. alliances with Kenya on trade, terrorism and wildlife protection.
Apologizing for not visiting his relatives as the traditional customs would require, he referred to the obligations of political officials
not to fall to the temptations of favoring own tribe or relatives.
"I'm more restricted, ironically, as president of the United States than I am as - than I will be as a private citizen in terms of some of the hands-on direct help that I'd like to give," he said.
According to President Obama ethnic favoritism is crippling Kenya's social cohesion.
Ethnic favoritism has been mostly at root of most civil wars and unrests in Africa, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cental African Republic, Ivory Coast, Angola, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi.
Several African countries are still based on the ethnic groups, with political and military leaders almost exclusively from one ethnic group. The countries in which the political and military system are bulit on one minority ethnic group include Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan.
President Obama also warned Kenya and other societies against marginalizing women.
“Every country and every culture has traditions that are unique and help make that country what it is, but just because something is part of your past doesn’t make it right; it doesn’t mean it defines your future ...Just because something is part of your past doesn’t make it right...Around the world there is a tradition of oppressing women and treating them differently and not giving them the same opportunities, and husbands beating their wives, and children not being sent to school. Those are traditions. Treating women and girls as second-class citizens. Those are bad traditions. They need to change’
Whether African political leaders who promote or built ethnically based systems will heed President Obama's call remain to be ssen.