26 July 2006

The Kenya Times

Many Americans read publications from overseas, such as the Economist or the Guardian or Le Monde. You can check the BBC, for example, on the internet, or get your news from any of a number of English-language overseas sources, if you want a viewpoint of how the Europeans or Arabs view the United States.

But how often do we get to see how the Kenyans view the United States? I don't know of too many Americans with subscriptions to the Kenya Times. So it was amusing to me to see a copy of that newspaper with an article about U.S. Senator Barack Obama's planned trip to Kenya.

Obama's father is Kenyan, and the Kenyans are apparently quite taken with junior Senator from Illinois. Evidently, according to the article, Obama will be traveling to Africa in mid-August, spending a week in Kenya and another week traveling around. There's some chance he may pay a visit to our fair corner of the Earth to say hello to the troops. I actually quite like Senator Obama and would be keen to see him if he does visit. Funny, considering the lengths I'll go to avoid seeing other politicians (*cough* Dick Cheney).

According to the Times, Obama is "widely expected to become a future President of the United States," and is "perhaps one of the most popular politicians in the country."

My favorite line in the whole article, though, is this: "Old white Americans in Washington DC describe him as 'an incredibly intelligent young man who we think shall one day become President of the United States."

A good rule of thumb in journalism is that if a source isn't actually cited (i.e., "Ted Kennedy, an old, white American, said…" or at least, "a source, who asked not to be named but who was quite old and definitely white, said…"), so it's fairly likely that our intrepid correspondent for the Kenya Times was making this up. Perhaps it's the gist of several conversations he's had with old, white Americans, maybe even with Ted Kennedy (for some reason I think that when foreigners picture old white Americans, they picture the Teddster; I don't know why). In any event I had to laugh when I read that.

Another amusing line indicated that "the press in the mid-west, where coincidentally Obama's mother came from (his mother came from Kansas Missouri State) have highlighted his visit to Africa as a significant event."

This actually says a lot about what the Kenya Times readers are interested in. Does the United States, the biggest, most powerful, most schizophrenic country on Earth, care about Kenya? It's a serious question. We don't often appear to care much about any place in sub-Saharan Africa. So a Kenyan reader might wonder whether this trip to Africa was getting any play in the States, and learning that it does will certainly make Kenyan readers happy. I do wonder, though, if they can locate Kansas Missouri State on a map. I'm not sure I can.


Rambling Speech said...

I wonder if it's mistaken identity for Kansas city Missouri? If I was Kenyan, I'd be confused by the name of one state being also the name of a city in another state!

Been to Georgia City, South Carolina? See how weird that is? We need to rename that city.

Smitty said...

I've never heard of Georgia City, South Carolina. There is one?
There's also an Indiana, Pennsylvania, and a Michigan, Oregon.