27.05.2024 Author: Simon Chege Ndiritu

Nairobi Visits Washington; Notes about the US-Kenya relations during the Kenyan President’s State Visit

Nairobi Visits Washington; Notes about the US-Kenya relations during the Kenyan President’s State Visit

Nairobi station of Chinese built Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) in Kenya


Kenya’s president in Washington on 23rd May 2024, to mark the 60th anniversary of the US-Kenya relations. While announcing the visit, the White House listed its other purposes including celebrating partnership, strengthening commitment to peace and security, expanding economic ties, and defending democracy. Still, it added other areas of engagement including people-to-people ties, trade and investment, technological innovation, climate and clean energy, and health and security, among others. One might be forgiven for thinking that the Kenyan leader will be in the US for a whole month given this long list of activities, before realizing that Washington is trying to replace substance with words, as it has nothing tangible to offer. The US ambassador to Kenya revealed that the visit will last one week, which is grossly insufficient to exhaustively address the listed purposes, which makes the visit symbolic. Surprisingly, the visit’s symbolic goal was revealed by the same ambassador, who revealed that it will be ‘a great honor to the President and Kenyans’. Clearly, as the east discusses infrastructure, trade, and investment, the US is self-absorbed in symbolism, an aspect that seems to have been noted by the Kenyan government, which despite maintaining close relations with the US obtains infrastructural investment from China for mega projects such as the Nairobi-Thika Superhighway, the Nairobi Expressway, and the Nairobi-Mombasa Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), to mention but a few. This article illustrates Washington’s imperial motivations for inviting Kenya, its lack of proposals for tangible growth, and how it will easily renege on potential agreements arrived at during this meeting, like it has always done to black people.

Washington’s Show, and its Real Essence

The White House’s claims to be celebrating the US-Kenya relationship is incorrect, as the former often acts as neocolonial master. Washington meddles in Kenya’s politics and even assassinated a Kenyan scholar, possibly for his socialist inclination, which shows the faulty nature of this partnership. Additionally, the revelation that the US and Kenya will focus on strengthening commitment to peace and security vis-à-vis both lacking internal security issues suggests Washington’s preference to meddle in other countries, and use Nairobi as a tool to enforce its version of ‘peace’. Washington does not conceptualize peace as developing organically from balance and mutual respect between parties, and has to stoke strife to inject itself to enforce peace through death and destruction as Vietnam, Iraq, Syria or Yugoslavia illustrate. The same attitude comes to the fore in insisting that the US-Kenya meeting will focus on strengthening the defense of democracy. The US does not envisage democracy as entailing societies organically engaging in independent and representative self-determination. Instead, it appoints itself to enforce its version of democracy, also as seen in Iraq, Syria, and Libya, among others. Kenya has repeatedly deployed force alongside the US to defend peace or democracy, with the latest attempt being in Haiti for no interest of its own.

Other goals of the US-Kenya meeting, such as ‘promoting technology’ makes one wonder which technology both countries have developed for 60 years of relations. Also, the charade of Energy and Climate change is laughable as the US, which contributes a quarter of the world’s emissions, engages Kenya, which contributes under 1%. Washington should just reduce its emissions alone. Also, discussion concerning reduction of emissions can only be meaningful if done between the US and China, each of which contributes about a quarter of global emissions.

What becomes of potential US-Kenya Agreements? Nothing.

The US-Kenya meeting may culminate in some agreements being signed, which will be useless, as the former historically reneges on all agreements with black people. Historically, the establishment in Washington has never kept any promises made to black people, including those for freedom made in the declaration of independence (1776), Proclamation of Emancipation (1863) or the passage of the Civil Rights Acts (1964). This reality can be gleaned in Martin Luther King Jr.’s (MLK) speech during the March on Washington in 1963, the year that Kenya gained independence from British colonization. The opening lines of MLK’s I Have a Dream speech were as follows;

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free.

MLK’s statement made references to Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Declaration of 1863, which nominally gave freedom to African slaves in the US. However, the US administration ignored the declaration, such that, MLK and others had to demand the same rights again 100 years later. By the 1960s, the emancipation proclamation had been proven meaningless, as the last line of the quote above shows. The pattern of Washington officially declaring to stop oppressing Africans but continuing doing it is reinforced when MLK referred back to 90 years before the Emancipation Declaration to the Declaration of Independence which should have made all free, but Washington’s establishment waived it on black people as seen in the excerpt below;

When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked “insufficient funds”.

Washington repeating the same promise but failing to honor it twice in intervals of 100 years shows how it lies, a lesson that the Kenyan leader should note carefully. Washington went ahead to kill MLK as opposed to meeting past promises, which affirms that such proclamations were never meant to be kept.

And Kenya Already Know

Thankfully, Kenya’s leadership appears to have clearly understood that Washington’s lavish proclamations results in zero actions. Any Kenyan has to look really hard to find any infrastructural or economic project done by the US over the last 60 years of partnership because there are none. The Kenyan leadership, knowing Americans’ inability to build or develop anything, has developed economically constructive partnership with others while regularly appearing for US shows. For instance, Kenya has cultivated a fruitful infrastructural partnership with China and received loans for constructing over 6000 kilometers of modern standard gauge rail (SGR)  between the capital and coastal city, a 45 kilometer 10 lane superhighway between the capital Nairobi and the Industrial city of Thika, and a 27 km modern expressway built above certain highways in Nairobi. Kenya also receives grain and fertilizer from Russia, and even bought Russian T-72s in 2009. Washington’s theatrics have been unsuccessful in hiding its incapacity for development, even to its allies.


Simon Chege Ndiritu, is a political observer and research analyst from Africa, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook

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