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They say that it is great to know people in high places!
After an immigration judge denied her request for asylum in 2004, Zeituni Onyango disappeared from the radar of the Immigration people. She hid so well that she attended her nephew’s swearing in ceremony in the United States Senate in 2005. Barack Obama’s Aunt Zeituni, in our country illegally, was reported as living in a housing project in South Boston just before the November election.
Obama said that he was unaware that Aunt Zeituni had been denied asylum. However, it appears that just days before the election, presumably to appear as not trying to interfere with the outcome of an election with any negative publicity, ICE was issued a directive regarding Aunt Zeituni. although they state it was intended for “high profile” cases:
The directive from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, which was obtained last week by the AP in a Freedom of Information Act request, was e-mailed to ICE agents on Oct. 31 and expressed concerns about “negative media or congressional interest” and ordered ICE agents to seek approval before making arrests.
It seems that Aunt Zeituni’s status is now on hold, as she was able to attend Obama’s Inauguration and an Inaugural Ball, along with Grandma Sara from Kenya and his stepmother Kezia, who now resides in Great Britain. My question is not that she has been granted a change of status in some manner now, but how was she able to fly under the radar for several years given that she had such a high-profile nephew, or is that the answer!
UPDATE: INS reported today that Aunt Zeituni will face an immigration hearing in April, and she has vowed to fight deportation.
The following appeared in The Standard, one of Kenay’s newspapers, on November 9, 2008.:
How to ride the Obama train
Certain things are bound to happen soon in our country following the euphoric triumph of Barack Obama in the US presidential election.
One, there will be plenty of merrymaking. Already, the Government swung a surprise by officially setting aside Thursday for the nursing of hangovers from Obama victory-related indulgences and out of an appreciation that the day would have seen little productivity anyway.
While the real voters in America went back to work as usual, a country miles away that had no active role in the exercise collectively behaved like Unoka, the Things Fall Apart indolent bum.
He reportedly made merry “whenever a little money came his way.” Yet like him, we still wonder why we are so poor and others so rich!
Over the weekend entertainment joints outdid each other holding bashes in the name of the President-elect with Kenyan roots. Now our MPs are planning vicarious homecoming parties for Obama. This curiously worded indulgence happens to be uniquely Kenyan.
You can bet there isn’t going to be one or two of these. Rather, with the craving to be associated with the charismatic Democrat hitting fever pitch, rivals will try to outdo each other in their scale and extravagance. And this is besides the carnival that has been going on in Kogelo, the incoming President’s patriarchal village.
Like false prophets, these parties may assume various disguises. Nyanza MPs have already announced “special prayers” to mark Obama’s historical win at Uhuru Park. Expect there to be Obama beauty pageantry, an Obama boda boda competition, the Obama Football Cup, an Obama arts festival, the Obama Bullfighting Trophy, Friends-for-Obama Marathon or the Obama Golf Challenge.
A safe bet is that politicians, and especially MPs, will be playing a prominent role. There is nothing wrong with a country toasting to the stellar success of the offspring of its son. But as the Ibo of Nigeria say, if a handshake goes beyond the elbow, it is no longer a handshake. We must temper the celebrations with some realism. And a bit of opportunism too.
Rather than have endless parties, wouldn’t we be better off thinking of creative ways to exploit attendant business avenues?
A natural corollary of Tuesday’s Obama win will be at least a modicum of our country’s enhanced ties with America. We should hope to see more tourists especially from the US coming to see their president’s father’s birthplace.
But to gain fully from this luck, we need to do more than merely demonstrate our relationship with Obama in wild partying. That is the message our politicians should be preaching. The road to Kisumu, for instance, is largely a cattle track after Kericho. Roads in the so-called Luo Nyanza that is likely to assume prominence in tourist interest are generally in bad shape.
Poverty is endemic. Although successive years of Government neglect are largely to blame for this, there is also an abject absence of credible leadership in the region. Obsession with politics by area MPs, manifested in infatuation with press conferences and theatrics in Parliament, have played their part too.
To ride the Obama gravy train, we must harness our potential. Slaughtering bulls for our youths to feast in his honour is great. We need to hear and see MPs aiding the youth in initiating enterprises that capture tourist fancies sufficiently for them to part with those dollars. Leaders need to preach a mercantile approach to arising opportunities. Rather than exhaust meagre resources feasting to our son’s victory, emphasis should be on milking the situation for all its worth.