Initially, Mr. Odinga was not the favored opposition candidate to stand in the 2007 election against President Mwai Kibaki, who was seeking his second term. However, he received a tremendous boost when Sen. Barack Obama arrived in Kenya in August 2006 to campaign on his behalf. Mr. Obama denies that supporting Mr. Odinga was the intention of his trip, but his actions and local media reports tell otherwise.
Mr. Odinga and Mr. Obama were nearly inseparable throughout Mr. Obama's six-day stay. The two traveled together throughout Kenya and Mr. Obama spoke on behalf of Mr. Odinga at numerous rallies. In contrast, Mr. Obama had only criticism for Kibaki. He lashed out against the Kenyan government shortly after meeting with the president on Aug. 25. "The [Kenyan] people have to suffer over corruption perpetrated by government officials," Mr. Obama announced.
"Kenyans are now yearning for change," he declared. The intent of Mr. Obama's remarks and actions was transparent to Kenyans - he was firmly behind Mr. Odinga.
Mr. Odinga and Mr. Obama had met several times before the 2006 trip. Reports indicate Mr. Odinga visited Mr. Obama during trips to the U.S. in 2004, 2005 and 2006. Mr. Obama sent his foreign policy adviser Mark Lippert to Kenya in early 2006 to coordinate his summer visit. Mr. Obama's August trip coincided with strategizing by Orange Democratic Movement leaders to defeat Mr. Kibaki in the upcoming elections. Mr. Odinga represented the ODM ticket in the presidential race.
Perhaps Obama wanted the kind of change for Kenya that he wants to bring to the USA. Is this what Americans really want?