A note to Obama: don’t lecture Kenyans on gay rights

by Mathew Otieno


Dear Sir,

I must begin by congratulating you on being the first sitting American president to visit our country. It is highly unlikely you noticed it, but they renovated the highways and swept the streets for you. Never mind that a few blocks away from the highway you used, I have frequently escaped being knocked down while walking on the road, which is the only sensible place to walk if you don’t want to arrive at your destination with shoes caked with dust.

But anyway, that aside, we are Kenyans. We like visitors, and we make the living room, which is where we host them, very clean and beautiful, even if it means sweeping all the dirt and muck into the other rooms. We’ll deal with the trash when you are gone. And I hope that you were not fooled by the excellent behaviour of our leaders; they aren’t always like that. It’s just that the whole country was fawning on you.

Everyone, however, would have been much happier if you had kept your views on LGBT rights to yourself. As you say, “everybody deserves fair treatment – equal treatment – in the eyes of the law and the state. And that includes gays, lesbians, transgender persons” and, I add, “straight” persons too, whom you seem to have, conveniently, forgotten in your eloquence.

I do not disagree. All of them are people, with the same rights and freedoms as you and I. But, I would like to know, what is unfair in a law which, while recognising peoples’ fundamental equality and freedom, also lays down the principles, derived from human nature, by which the exercise of such equality and freedom are to be governed?

What is wrong, in today’s world which clamours so much for diversity and choice, in recognising fundamental differences between men and women? What is wrong, sir, in recognising that while all men are created equal, they are also created different?

On this issue you are wrong, sir. Your journey to the pinnacle of the world’s most powerful nation captivated the world and made many people realise that, as the first Kenyan to win an Oscar, our Lupita Nyong’o says, all dreams are valid. The fulfillment of the dream of that “skinny boy with a funny name who believed that America had a place for him too” kindled the imaginations of countless people across the world.

Now, at a time when your presidency nears its close and you are, ironically, at your most powerful in the last seven years, you have made a grave mistake. The ideologies you are now peddling around the world, by exploiting America’s phenomenal economic and cultural influence, are lethal to human freedom and starkly opposed to the ideals which made it possible for you to become president, perhaps even to be born.

The heroes of the American civil rights movement would rend their garments if they knew that you were comparing them to the LGBT movement. Theirs was a movement which, in recognising the essential differences among men, was able to reconcile it with their fundamental equality in seeking to make America a better place for people of all races.

The LGBT movement on the other hand, steps on these differences and does violence to the idea that all men are entitled to equal treatment under the law. Martin Luther King Jr didn’t dream of a country where every white man who wanted to be black would turn black and every black man who wanted to be white would turn white. No, he dreamt of a country where men would be judged “not by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

He didn’t dream the colour would change, he didn’t dream that the differences would cease to exist, that blacks would achieve equality with whites by becoming themselves white. He dreamt, instead, that character would be the preeminent factor in the world’s judgement of men. But the LGBT activists whose ideas you reiterated in a country which welcomed you with the kind of hospitality none of its citizens will ever receive in America, are saying the exact opposite.

They dream of a world where people will be judged, not by their virtue and character, but by whether they have agreed to erase the differences with which nature endowed them, for the consolation of being “equal” with the rest. Theirs is a dream which rests on the principle that some people aren’t created equal, and have to change to achieve equality. It is hard to find an idea more at odds with the Declaration of Independence. These people confuse equality with sameness.

But, unlike the good reverend’s dream, this is an impossible dream to fulfill, if it qualifies to be called a dream in the first place. Not everyone is the same, and you are living testament to that, sir. Sameness is an illusion. The world’s diversity is something we cannot, and shouldn’t even try, to erase. Doing so means overstepping our bounds as men, and denying future generations their legitimate rights to self-determination and identity. Think about that.

Just a little assurance before I finish. As you said, when we “start treating people differently – not because of any harm they’re doing anybody, but because they’re different – that’s the path whereby freedoms begin to erode and bad things happen.” We don’t intend to treat any people differently if they are causing no harm. However, the people who push the LGBT agenda do a lot of harm to our children, families and country. But we still won’t treat them differently, even though your statement would vindicate us if we did. We’ll just try to protect ourselves from the harm their activity portends.

I know this little missive might not reach you. But, in the unlikely scenario that it does, I hope it will help you realize that you are wasting your waning energies in a fight which will probably be the biggest mistake America ever made.

Anyway, don’t let this make you think I didn’t welcome you here. When you get the time, after your upcoming retirement, do come back, as you’ve promised you will, and ask me out for a mug of beer on a cool Nairobi evening.

A Concerned Kenyan Student

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One comment to “A note to Obama: don’t lecture Kenyans on gay rights”
  1. Sasa watu walikuwa wanang’eng’ana kuongea hizi vitu waki-threaten Obama yet aliiongelelea only when asked by a Kenyan journalist. People just embarrassed themselves causing a fuss over nothing ati 5000 people walikuwa waProtest naked tao. Sasa hiyo ni nini! Aibu tupu.

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