Kenya’s Creeping Americanization


Kentucky Fried Chicken, Burger King, Pizza Hut – they’re all here now. The fast food chains started to mushroom soon after President Barack Obama’s visit to Kenya in 2015.

Obama brought with him “American interests”. Soft power

America wants Kenya or any to be like America so they can more easily do business together.

They didn’t spring forth fully formed.

But billboards featuring fast food icons didn’t start lining Nairobi’s streets until President Obama visited Kenya in 2015.

Ostensibly his trip was about X

Behind the scenes it was about advancing soft and hard power.

The aim is to win hearts and minds — via stomachs.

And it is a kind of victory. Soft X

Soft power is the ability to attract and co-opt, rather than coerce(hard power). Soft power is the ability to shape the preferences of others through appeal and attraction. A defining feature of soft power is that it is non-coercive; the currency of soft power is culture, political values, and foreign policies

To some these American icons symbols of stability. It indicates that country’s like Kenya are now safe, civilized and secure. “Kenya is open for business,” as Kenya’s President Kenya mantra

You won’t likely see a Starbucks in Mogadishu anytime soon.

That’s soft power. Hard power is quite different.

Not many multinationals here a few years ago. It’s no coincidence they cropped up soon after President Barack Obama’s trip to Kenya in July 2015.