In our sequence of letters from African journalists, Waihiga Mwaura appears to be like at what the continent may anticipate from new US President Joe Biden.
The crimson carpet was unrolled, the corridor was packed, safety was tight and Joe Biden took to the stage.
This was Nairobi in 2010 and Kenyans had come to take heed to the-then US vice-president.
“I hope what I’m saying does not come throughout as lecturing,” he stated in a phrase that often heralds a lecture.
“I’m not,” he insisted. “However too lots of your assets have been misplaced to corruption and never a single high-ranking official has been held accountable for these crimes.”
I used to be a type of watching and, at the moment, the US was a beacon of democracy and the rule of regulation, the land of the free and the courageous and the supply of an aspirational dream.
A decade on and rather a lot has modified.
May Mr Biden now get away with a lecture – how ever nicely which means – if he decides to go to Kenya?
President Donald Trump, by way of his America First coverage, redefined the US’ picture overseas. However that picture has additionally been altered by way of his actions and phrases – not least his reported dismissal of African nations in extremely derogatory phrases.
And although the workplace of the president may be separated from the person, President Biden will, within the gentle of the final 4 years, have to deal with Kenya and the remainder of the continent in a markedly completely different tone and with a markedly completely different message.
‘Not the shining metropolis’
Examples of how Mr Trump steamrolled norms, and thereby tarnished the view of the US, are too many to slot in this piece.
However except for the failure to launch tax returns, undermining intelligence businesses and contradicting scientists within the midst of a pandemic, the occasions of 6 January, when the president’s supporters stormed the US Capitol, confirmed that this went past one man.
The US was now not the shining metropolis on the hill.
5 folks died because the protesters tried to cease a joint session of Congress to certify Mr Biden’s election victory, resulting in accusations that the outgoing president was trying a coup.
The world watched in horror as scenes solely witnessed in – shall I say – much less developed democracies unfolded earlier than their eyes.
Kenyan newspaper editors weren’t alone in describing the occasions as “chaotic” and “shameful” – and calling Mr Trump “disgraced”.
And phrases like “banana republic”, “failed state” and “fragile democracy” have been thrown the way in which of the US.
Mr Biden takes over within the White Home with the data that the world now not respects america in the identical method.
And this might have implications for governance throughout the continent.
Presidents now not maintain the US in awe and can discover it simpler to dismiss issues about democratic processes.
Within the run-up to the vote in Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni instructed a Channel 4 reporter that his administration’s crackdown on protesters was geared toward stopping scenes much like what unfolded in Washington.
In army phrases, for a few years the US has been described because the world’s policeman however in relation to democratic norms it has additionally been known as the world’s prefect. However can opposition actions and civil society teams in nations like Kenya now depend on Washington for assist when elections come?
Ugandan opposition candidate Bobi Wine appealed to the US to maintain the federal government accountable throughout and after the polls however some questioned whether or not it was too engrossed with inside strife to have had any affect.
Regardless of the heightened safety, there was an orderly switch of energy within the US and Congress has gone again to the enterprise of legislating suggesting the significance of sturdy establishments that rise above the person.
Additionally, President Biden could now know what it feels prefer to dwell in a rustic the place particular person leaders can simply trample on norms and conventions.
Nonetheless, he’ll now must tread extra fastidiously in relation to relations with Africa and he’ll must fastidiously weigh up any phrases of recommendation.
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