In our collection of letters from African journalists, Waihiga Mwaura examines what the continent would possibly anticipate from new US President Joe Biden.
The purple carpet was rolled out, the corridor was packed, safety was tight, and Joe Biden took to the stage.
It was Nairobi in 2010 and Kenyans had come to take heed to the then American vp.
“I hope what I say will not be thought-about a lecture,” he says in a sentence that normally declares a lecture.
“I am not,” he insisted. “However too a lot of your sources have been misplaced to corruption and never a single senior official has been held accountable for these crimes.”
I used to be a type of watching, and at the moment America was a beacon of democracy and the rule of regulation, the land of the free and the courageous, and the supply of a lofty dream.
A decade later and rather a lot has modified.
May Mr. Biden now get away with a convention – so well-meaning – if he decides to go to Kenya?
President Donald Trump, by his America First coverage, has redefined the picture of the USA overseas. However that picture was additionally altered by his actions and phrases – notably his reported dismissal from African countries in highly derogatory terms.
And whereas the workplace of President could also be separated from the person, President Biden will, in gentle of the previous 4 years, have to handle Kenya and the remainder of the continent in a markedly totally different tone and with a markedly totally different message.
‘Plus the shining metropolis’
There are too many examples of how Mr. Trump has steamed the requirements, and thus tarnished the US perspective, to enter into this text.
However other than failing to publish tax returns, undermining intelligence businesses, and contradicting scientists within the midst of a pandemic, the occasions of January 6, when the president’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, confirmed it went past a person.
America was now not the shining metropolis on the hill.
5 folks have died as protesters tried to cease a joint session of Congress to certify Mr Biden’s electoral victory, resulting in accusations that the outgoing president was trying a coup.
The world watched in horror scenes by which solely much less developed democracies – I might say – unfolded earlier than their eyes.
Kenyan newspaper editors weren’t the one ones calling the occasions “chaotic” and “shameful” – and calling Mr. Trump “disgraced.”
And phrases like “banana republic”, “failed state” and “fragile democracy” have been thrown in the best way of the USA.
Mr. Biden takes over on the White Home realizing that the world now not respects the USA in the identical means.
And that would have implications for governance throughout the continent.
Presidents are now not impressed with the USA and can discover it simpler to dismiss considerations about democratic processes.
Because the vote in Uganda attracts close to, President Yoweri Museveni informed a Channel 4 reporter that his administration’s crackdown on protesters was geared toward stopping scenes just like these in Washington.
In army phrases, for a few years the USA has been described because the world’s policeman, however in relation to democratic requirements, it has additionally been referred to as the prefect of the world. However can opposition actions and civil society teams in international locations like Kenya now rely on Washington for his or her help within the elections?
Ugandan opposition candidate Bobi Wine referred to as on the USA to carry the federal government accountable throughout and after the election, however some questioned whether or not it was too engrossed in inner strife to have had an influence.
Regardless of the elevated safety, there was an orderly switch of energy to the USA, and Congress has returned to the duty of legislating, suggesting the significance of robust establishments that transcend the person.
Moreover, President Biden can now discover out what it’s wish to reside in a rustic the place particular person leaders can simply trample requirements and conventions underfoot.
Nonetheless, he’ll now need to be extra cautious about relations with Africa and he must weigh all recommendation rigorously.