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The East African : Aug 16th 2015
The EastAfrican NEWS AUGUST 15-21,2015 TRADEPACT How Obama visit, Uganda state tou≥ gave Uhu≥u he≥oic status F or the past two weeks, the political fortunes of President Uhuru Kenyatta at the international level ap- peared to be on the upswing. First, Barack Obama, President of the United States, fulfilled his promise to visit the land of his father during his presidency. Second, Uganda gave Uhuru the unusual honour of not only a state visit but also addressing parliament. Obama’s visit had two objectives: Agriculture Organisation, compared with an average of $350 in Comesa. The yield per acre is 68 tonnes against a global average of 78 tonnes, 126 tonnes in Egypt and more than 118 tonnes in Ethiopia, Senegal and Malawi. “Until we accept that we have a sugar deficit and agree to let sugar in to fill the deficit, sugar prices will never go down,” said Mr Busolo, adding that regulation of imports would not achieve much until smuggling is tackled. He added: “This is happening in Kismayu and the government is yet to act. There is a lot of illegally imported sugar here which is repackaged and sold in our market.” Mr Busolo added that the gov- ernment has to come out strongly to control this. The East African Treaty Com- mon External Tariff established a 100 per cent tax on sensitive products coming from outside the EAC countries. These are mainly agroprocessed products such as sugar, milk, meat and wheat. But there The deficit in Kenya can only be met through imports.” Saulo Busolo, a former Kenya Sugar Board chairman is also a provision that stipulates that, in case of an emergency, a member state can request a waiver on this measure. Early this year, the EAC Council of Ministers permitted Tanzania to import 100,000 tonnes of sugar at 50 per cent duty instead of 100 per cent between April and June while Rwanda was cleared to import 70,000 tonnes at 25 per cent for one year. During the period of stay of application of CET, sugar from Rwanda and Tanzania will attract CET rates when exported to other partner states. The Council also imposed other conditions aimed at protecting the sugar industries of other EAC economies including Kenya, Uganda and Burundi. Long-term US interests and personal ones. First, the West has increasingly looked lost in the geopolitical competition for influence as they play catch-up with the Chinese “Dragon,” whose presence in Africa is unmistakable despite China’s insistence on downplaying its global power. With the Americans leading the West, one of the objectives of Obama’s visit was to help counter that perceived loss of prestige in a pivotal East African country. The visit was also long overdue. The delay had tended to make President Obama look ridiculous, given that he had visited other lands. He went to that other land of his supposed ancestry, Ireland, and joked about looking for a missing apostrophe (as in O’Bama) as he gulped some Irish beer. He visited Egypt to address the Arabs from the vantage point of Cairo. He had also gone to Accra to be serenaded as a conquering hero. And he went to South Africa to bury Mandela and also showed up in neighbouring Tanzania. Obama had deliberately skirted Kenya because, he joked, he did not want to be accused of playing favourites. He enjoyed himself, dancing, talking, answering questions. His host was agemate Uhuru, with whom he shares a few attributes. These include being left-handed boys of 1961 whose dates of birth were barely two months apart, going to good schools and being articulate. And at a joint press conference the duo held, Obama seemingly found his match in eloquence. Obama’s problem was that he was pushing an American cultural agenda in the wrong African setting and he looked confounded. Uhuru took advantage and carried the day by stressing the primacy of African culture and the basics of life. Uhuru simply said a big cultural “NO” to Obama on matters that were “non-issues” to Africans. In doing so, he boosted his reputation as a defender of African values and interests. Among those he impressed were the people of Uganda, Kenya’s neighbour to the west. Relations among states hinge on An official uses a scanner to read information from a microchip under a bull’s skin in Isiolo County in June. The electronic identification is meant to enhance traceability of beef and also proper record keeping. Picture: File the perception of the best way to advance and protect national interests. Conceptually, each state starts with itself as the centre and ranks others in concentric circles. In this sense, Kenya and Uganda consider each other to be their most important neighbour. Products of the British imperial penetration of East Africa as Brit- 11 President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya addresses a special session of the Ugandan parliament in Kampala during his recent state visit. Picture: File COMMENTARY MACHARIA MUNENE “Uhuru’s ability to best Obama was an added feather to his antiimperialism camp.” ain struggled to keep Germany and France away from the Nile and the Great Lakes, they shared the “Uganda Railway” — so called although it is largely in Kenya. While in simplistic economic terms the railway, nicknamed “The Lunatic Express,” appeared like lunacy, it made a lot of geopolitical sense to the Victorian empire builders. The empire builders included Fre- derick Lugard in East and West Africa. Lugard had sweet-talked Waiyaki wa Hinga into entering into a blood brotherhood to allow the former’s relatives to enter Dagoretti. Waiyaki never knew what hit him as he was bundled off to exile in Mombasa to later die mysteriously in Kibwezi. Lugard had gone to Uganda to disorganise the Baganda and other kingdoms in an effort to create a “protectorate.” He thereafter found his way to Nigeria, still creating empires. Thus, Kenya and Uganda can claim to have similar colonial beginnings; they were geopolitical colonial twins. In response to the common em- pire builders, the “natives” in the two colonies tended to see their struggles as one, although Uganda remained a mythical “protectorate” while Kenya became a “crown colony” to be transformed into “white man’s country.” They would later be joined by Tanganyika, yanked from Germany as punishment for the Great War, as British colonies. The one “native” name that fea- tured most across the anti-colonial struggles was that of Jomo Kenyatta. The author of Facing Mount Kenya in the 1930s and promoter of pan-Africanism, he was a strategist for the 1945 Manchester Conference that called for the political destruction of colonialism and imperial- ism. Accused of managing the Mau Mau War in the 1950s, Kenyatta had emerged from prison a continental hero with many young African admirers. In many ways, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni sees himself as a “liberator” of Uganda in the same way that Kenyatta helped to liberate Kenya and Africa. He finds kinship with Uhuru, the son of Jomo, in whom he sees a combination of old Jomo and himself. Uhuru’s ability to best Obama was an added feather to his anti-imperialism camp. Uganda has made a point of publicly recognising this reality and Museveni has made his position clear that imperialists, holding trials in remote places, were behind a plot to jail Uhuru in the same way they had jailed Jomo. Uganda giving Uhuru all the accolades befitting an African hero was another way of asserting anti-imperial solidarity of the 21st century similar to the anti-colonial one of the 1950s and ’60s, and a precedent on how to treat African heroes. Besides the 21-gun salute and trade talks, the lasting imprint was Uhuru addressing the House. And he did not disappoint with his sober, reflective, positive and forwardlooking address. He stressed the importance of knowing the glorious and painful African past, whether it is that of the pyramids and systems of governance or the humiliation of slavery and colonialism. This knowledge, he seemingly implied, should not be an obstacle to a bright future that Africans can shape for themselves without having to ask anyone’s permission. Macharia Munene is a professor of history and international relations at USIU-A.
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