Today, during my regular Twitter stalking I came across an interesting hashtag: “#someonetellBotswana”, I believe it was called. Upon clicking on it, I found myself to have landed on a Twitter page where a group of presumably angry Kenyans were bashing the country of Botswana for a statement released by Botswana’s ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Phandu Skelemane was quoted as saying that Kenya President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta is not welcome in the country if he refuses to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC). He went on to tell the Mmegi, a Botswana daily, “If he refuses to go (to The Hague), then we have a problem. That means that they do not know the rule of law. You can’t establish a court and refuse to go when it calls you. If he refuses, he won’t set foot here.”
Apparently it was this statement that drove the Kenyans insane. It became clear to me upon following the hashtag closely that the Kenyans were not pleased by this.
Interestingly, the #someonetellBotswana tweets were an accumulation of “why should we care what you think” tweets to the Botswana nationals on Twitter. Botswana’s small population was brought up and ridiculed. The country’s GDP was also mocked in comparison to the wealth held by certain citizens of Kenya. Essentially, everything but our foreign policy was brought up.
I’m going to go ahead and say how disappointed I am in the Kenyan Nationals for not mentioning the one thing that mattered. To be honest, I spent the first few moments of viewing the Kenyan’s tweets in complete confusion. It seemed as if the tweets were an expression of some deep-rooted anti-Botswana sentiment that had been brewing in the Kenyans for what felt like quite a while.
In fact I had to ask around before I got to the centre of this anti-Botswana tirade.
My sentiment on the whole issue can be summed up in this tweet I sent:
And that’s the point I’m getting at. The #someonetellBotswana tweets did a lot to express how angry the Kenyans were but very little to highlight the real issue—that is an African nation turning against another African nation in the name of a Western International Organization.
If that had been discussed and the anti-imperialist sentiment that has been brewing in Kenya in recent years, perhaps never to be highlighted more than the fact that a presidential candidate wanted by the ICC was democratically elected by the people of Kenya, had been used to show how problematic Botswana’s foreign affairs policy has been for her inter-African relations.
Perhaps that would have brought up a nice discussion among Africans on how our alliances to the west affect how we view and treat each other as Africans. Perhaps that would have forced us to question the power our foreign affairs policies have on our inter-continental relationships as Africans and how that has been a drawback in the progress of Africa as a whole. And perhaps we could have used this opportunity to examine the effect of these things on the pan-Africanist vision that the founders of Kenya fought for.
I implore the Africans to learn each other’s stories. I’d have loved to see the Kenyans find out where this anti-Uhuru sentiment came from. And I would have been very proud of my fellow Batswana if they’d used this opportunity to learn precisely what has been going on in the Kenyan landscape pre-election of the very man our minister abhors.
Today would have been a great day for nourishing discussion on these issues–and not on how many donkeys Botswana has.
POST EDIT: Botswana minister makes Uhuru ICC U-turn