30-05-2023 by Freddie del Curatolo
Kenya is the country of hospitality, and the definition is not just metaphorical and 'tourist postcard'. If its people have always posed in an affable and hospitable manner towards the foreigner who colonised it, forced it into trade relations, and finally led it after independence towards the policies it favoured, so today the new powers in Nairobi are trying to keep their two feet in a dozen shoes as much as possible to show that for everyone there is a chance, but above all everyone can make a contribution to making the country grow, taking credit and benefits from it.
Kenya is like 'my cousin' from Elio e le storie tese, 'everyone's friend'.
Not only a 'pleaser' but also capable of keeping governments around the globe in balance, sometimes giving a shove to one and recovering credit with the other.
An interview of then-President Uhuru Kenyatta with CNN remains historic, in which the interviewer teased him: 'you have a lot of debts with China, doesn't that worry you?' he asked, and without flinching, Kenyatta replied 'yes, we have debts with China, but we also have debts with you Americans, with Japan, with United Europe, with Korea...why should we worry? Hospitality, as some of our people teach us, needs a good dose of paraculaggy.
Of course, a healthy or at least under-gunned Kenya is good for anyone, both because of the nation's untapped potential, its strategic location and the intelligence of its interlocutors, because to untangle foreign powers so well, one undoubtedly needs talent.
So it is that on his way to South Africa where he will meet the developing nations that stand against the 'hegemony of the dollar' (i.e. Brazil, India and South Africa) as well as China, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stopped in Nairobi to speak with President William Ruto.
Big smiles, handshakes and at the end Ruto announced that Kenya will deepen its relations with Russia to increase the volume of trade.
He wrote on his twitter profile: 'The trade volume between Kenya and Russia is low, but the growth potential of our economies is significant.
A new trade agreement will soon be signed, not least because Russia is one of Kenya's largest importers of tea and the African country needs Moscow for raw materials such as wheat and maize, but also for iron and steel, fertilisers, paper and cardboard, copper, and last but not least, oil.
In officially calling for peace between Russia and Ukraine (which was received with the same cuteness a week ago), Ruto asked Russia, one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, to be allowed to join the body on a continuous basis as a representative of the African continent.
"The continent can bring to the table ideas, suggestions and experiences that would be useful to the whole world," Ruto said.
Freedom is participation, said Giorgio Gaber. And today the only way to feel free, or at least the most easily practicable, seems to be to fragment one's dependence in the face of so many different jailers. And Kenya is an excellent interpreter of this role-play, while those at the bottom or put on the side like the foreigners who live or invest in this country, watch hopeful and always a little worried.
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The justification is always the same: the old tree was sick and long-suffering, and it was necessary to break it down.
Certainly, cement-coated is also easier than suffering, in any case progress is also being made by these position cues.