Barack Obama vs. Chicago: He is not Land Grabbing! Just being a Kenya
Land grabbing is Kenya’s signature outfit. But one cannot fault Kenyans because they take this artistry from the British who colonized almost the entire world. America war of independence was in some way like the Kenyan war of independence. The legitimacy of Kenya’s war is however more justifiable than American war of independence. In the case of American war, the Europeans came and subdued the Native Americans, then got into war with their brothers. Both brothers were in essence colonizers who had a disagreement over the terms of the colony. The freedom fighters should have been the Native Americans (Red Indians).
Land grabbing is therefore an old art whose criminality is an issue of perspective. Humanity has been fighting for land for generations. The biblical narrative is full of land disputes, and to this day, the Palestinians believe that the Jewish nation is a land grabber. America still holds claim to Puerto Rico. Recently, Kenya’s William Ruto was accused of grabbing land to build a hotel near Kenya’s Wilson airport, Winston Hotel. His lawyer argued on Jeff Koinange live that, “Ruto’s development company bought the property from a second buyer who had bought it from the first buyer who was the land grabber.” He said that given that William Ruto was not the first grabber, the purchase was legitimate. You got to love lawyers.
Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta gave himself and his family thousands of acres of land. He argued that given during that time Kenya had not transitioned through law to a nation with a constitutional foundation that protected individual land rights, his land grabbing was not illegal. It is important to note that during his administration there was an effort to legalize land ownership and to zone it following the example of British colonial government. It is however during the reign of president Daniel Moi that the zoned land including land designated for churches schools, hospitals, toilets and other important domain was taken by individuals in his government thus nullifying any legitimacy of land laws.
Kenyans are therefore notorious land grabbers. A quality they inherited from British colonial government, which not only grabbed their land but also robbed if off its natural resource to build the British Empire. It is not therefore surprising to find out that former Kenyan American president Barack Obama is embroiled in a controversy and law suit in Chicago. Apparently, his foundation colluded with the city of Chicago to grab public land designated for Public Park in order to build his presidential library.
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According to his foundation and that of Chicago leadership, this is not land grabbing. Rather, it is public-private partnership whose purpose is to build a constructive entity that would be beneficial to the community. Do not blame Barack Obama! He is doing what Kenyans do best! Land grabbing.
William Ruto’s lawyer also presented the grabbing of land to build a private hotel as taking a public property and putting an entity that would benefit the community.
After visiting Kenya, an American businessman noted that, “Kenyans are the only people in the world who collect rocks from their farm, set up a kiosk by the road and try to sell the rocks to the neighbors claiming that, “hii mawe sio kama yenu, hii ni special.”
Teddy Njoroge Kamau (Ph.D)
- Bluff Associates
Diaspora Messenger Senior Columnist