Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Why Mombasa?

I was up on campus today and the World's Hottest Poli Sci Prof and I were talking about the latest Obama's birthday news: his Kenyan birth certificate. In my usual offhand fashion, I was laughing about it: "What kind of self-respecting pregnant white woman would be hanging out in Mombasa, anyway and at a government hospital? My gosh, the malaria rates on the coast? Hello, Nairobi was built in the high lands and all British government offices transferred up country back in the early 1900's, to save the woman and children from that shit."

Funny how the mind runs on. We were about to dismiss it, with that old caveat, why bother to look for logic in crazy but then I was reminded of that article/book chapter (?) written by the Comaroffs--had to be years and years ago--analyzing the meanings of a madman they had seen. He had quite a "look" Anybody remember that one? I recall some of the look he was rocking had to do with bits of flair reflecting the South African Railway. Any more detail would require me to find the piece. Anyway, that memory had me pondering the meaning of Mombasa.

If you are making up a version of reality, why that version of reality?

I guess its not a hard one. You couldn't think of a part of Kenya more "Arab", more "Muslim", and more "exotic". A set of associations most likely to channel the evil Hussein-centric view of Obama. Both Nairobi and the area of his father's family (actually, closer to Uganda than Nairobi) are more "British" and more "Christian" in their associations.

Cute that the myth developers, picked the government hospital for his birth, that so-called Ocean Provincial Hospital. There was/is a private hospital, the Mombasa Hospital run, originally, by the Holy Ghost Fathers, I believe. If we are making up stories, at least have her go to the more likely option: the place a "white woman" might, actually, have gone. But then the goal is not to invoke her whiteness in the attack on Obama, is it? Better to surpress that visual. At least they gave her a hospital. Very few Africans get that luxury.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President. Congratulations Hawaii. Perhaps we should all take a moment to remember Ann Dunham, mother and anthropologist. I think I would have enjoyed having a beer with her.


Tina said...

great post!! You could email this to Lou Dobbs.

Pamthropologist said...

Oh, thanks for reminding me. It is time for my daily email to CNN reminding them that I am still not viewing them until they fire him.

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