KENYANS RESPONSE TO NEW US ANTI TRAVEL ADVISORY CAME SWIFT AND BRUTAL
The reaction to the latest anti travel advisory by the US mission in Nairobi, advising their nationals to exercise maximum care and caution ahead of the expected ruling of the Supreme Court about the election petition swiftly brought about reactions, and being known to publish such sentiments, my email inbox was overflowing with comments from regular tourism sources and new ones’ too.
‘And you in the West wonder why Kenya looks at China’ asked one regular source from the coast while others let fly with words like ‘Cowards’ or ‘So not the home of the brave’ in their angry reaction to this latest attempt to maroon American citizens at home and well near prohibit them to travel to the parks or the coastal resorts over Easter.
The controversial anti travel advisory in part reads as follows: ‘The decision [sic: about the election petition] may be announced during the Easter holiday weekend, at a time when many people go out of town. There could be a strong public reaction to the announcement, therefore the US Embassy strongly urges all its citizens to avoid gatherings, demonstrations, downtown business areas, slums and large crowds’.
The Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers coast branch executive officer, one Sam Ikwaye, captured the mood of many when he publicly stated: ‘The US has always been expecting negative outcomes of the Kenyan situation . We want to tell the Obama-led administration that elections were well and peacefully conducted . We shall come out victorious as one nation irrespective of the outcome of the election petition expected by Saturday. Kenya is undergoing a transition period .Let the US Government give us a big break and stop behaving like they are the world police. We shall only be comfortable with partners who understand our predicaments and problems by and large’, the last part clearly being a sharpish reminder that the US and the West no longer played the dominant role in Kenya’s foreign and trade relations since the advent of China and India and the return of Russia to the world scene.
Other stakeholders, preferring not to be named, expressed their outrage and disappointment with the US mission’s latest advisory and remembered their panic action last year when they, out of the blue, recalled all official staff from Kenya’s port city of Mombasa, before a storm of outrage prompted them to lift that ill worded advisory a week afterwards with red faces.
One source at the American mission in Nairobi said off the record and on condition of strict anonymity: ‘You should understand that our responsibility is to our own citizens. We must warn them of potential problems, they expect us to warn them. It is not anti Kenya, it is pro American citizen. Personally I understand that the tourism industry is upset. I went to the Holiday Fair last week and many of my fellow Americans made arrangements to travel to the parks or the coast for the Easter weekend. How the advice we put to them influences their travel plans will be an individual decision’.
And of course, the question often asked and never answered, is that what friendly nations are supposed to do?