Travel Diary: Nairobi Abuzz as AGOA Forum Begins

Posted by D. Bruce Wharton
August 5, 2009
Kenyan Children Running Next to School

Interactive Travel Map | Text the Secretary | Behind the Scenes PhotosAbout the Author: Bruce Wharton serves as Director of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the Bureau of African Affairs.

Tuesday, August 4 -- Nairobi on the eve of the African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum (AGOA), and the beginning of Secretary Clinton's huge trip to Africa, is cool, a wonderful change from Washington in August, and full of energy.

The vitality of the city is evident on the busy sidewalks: people in business suits hurrying to appointments; banana vendors wading through dense traffic; school children in uniforms; busy churches. Kenyans clearly have the energy, the ambition, the education and the resources to thrive.

And yet, they are not thriving. Why? Kenya faces serious systemic problems: corruption, criminal and political violence, and a culture of impunity that all undermine domestic and international confidence in the country and cause widespread misery here. The warm and thoughtful Kenyans I have met so far deserve better. They deserve the chance to succeed. They deserve serious measures to end the cycles of violence and corruption that create cynicism, anger, despair and poverty.

It is easy to imagine a prosperous and proud Kenya, one in which the courts are strong and independent, corruption is not tolerated, and people trust public institutions to serve the broad, public good -- not narrow individual interests. That is not an impossible vision, but will take committed leadership and broad support from the people of Kenya. It is worth working for.



August 5, 2009

Julius writes:

Please Madam Secretary be very hard on those two Kenyas principals, they are political opportunists and don't let them manupilate you with lies.

South Africa
August 6, 2009

Suleman in South Africa writes:

Yes the Kenyan story is sad, but you would cry tears if you were to step in Uganda a country regarded as USA's ally and where USA has pumped a lot of Dollas in assistance. The abject poverty,the hopelessnes, created by a dictatorial and corrupt regime of life President Y Museveni, would make you hate humanity, it would make wonder why civilised countries like USA have continued to support such a regime.
In short Kenya is heaven compared to neighbour Uganda.

Suleman -South Africa


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