Until all African countries planning to sign laws against homosexual unions enact the laws and put paid to speculations, we should not stop writing about it. Even if I wanted to ignore what is becoming a tiring topic, Obama will not let me, as he decided to make it a major thrust of his African visit. In choosing the African countries to visit, he may have opted for the less “controversial” ones, perceived to be more amenable to “reason” (or bully, if you like) and those who may value America’s aids to the point of being cowed to submit. Perhaps he avoided the likes of Nigeria and Kenya for that reason, where he has been told in no clear terms that the matter was not debatable. In Obama’s native Kenya deputy president William Ruto said the country would not lose sleep after the American president’s apparent snub of their country, and referring to Obama’s call for the respect of gay “rights”, Ruto reminded him that Kenya was a God-fearing nation that would not accept “alien mannerisms” in conflict with both Christianity and African traditions. And if Obama then decides to “punish” Kenya by refusing bilateral cooperation, Ruto told him there were other countries willing and ready to partner with them.
The president of Senegal, smaller man that he is compared to Obama, in physical stature and political eminence proved he was a better man of principles. Looking him literally in the eye he told Obama that no sir, you can’t touch this one. “We are not ready to decriminalize homosexuality,” denying that Senegal was “homophobic”. And as if to make it clear that respect for “human rights” was not selective, he reminded Obama about America’s continuous application of the death penalty. All over Senegal, people were full of pride and joy that “David” stood up to “Goliath” and did not flinch doing so. Both in the newspapers and on the streets, Senegalese rallied behind their president who on their behalf seems to have closed the debate on legalizing homosexuality under any guise.
To be fair, it is not as if Obama has come to Africa solely as a champion of gays and lesbians. American people, as liberal as they may consider themselves, would not be paying tax for their president to travel thousands of kilometers on a homosexual campaign. Blame the press too for searching out and finding controversy. They expected a clash and they found it.
It is surprising how Obama has turned out this way: all for love of the White House. I am sadly reminded of Thomas Moore’s question to Richard Rich about the price for which he sold his soul and conscience: “For Wales?” Is this how Obama wants history to remember him, like an Elvis Presley that is an icon mostly for those who lived in the 60s, looking with nostalgia at what was “their time”, but meaning little for those who are living in today’s world? Is this how desperate he is to be liked and ensure a continuously high rating by all? Try as I might, I find in him very little in imitable principles– little I can encourage my son to emulate.
Wishing all Americans a happy 4th of July and a return to conscience.