Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s comments during a state visit to Israel where he described Kenyans as people “experienced in stealing and perpetuating other crimes” have caused a major uproar.
Kenyatta reportedly said Kenya was “20 times more wonderful” than Israel, but “all we ever do is complain”.
In an address to Kenyans living in Israel, the President noted that Kenyans were also abusers, and promoted tribalism, the BBC reported.
The comments have not been well received, particularly on social media, with users calling out Kenyatta, accusing the President himself and his administration of corruption.
The first thief in post independent Kenya was Jomo Kenyatta. Kenyatta began ruling by stealing public land, taxes, and jailing opponents.
— jacob juma (@kabetes) February 26, 2016
Uhuru calling us thieves when his father started this stealing business. Or he wants to tell us the dad bought 500,000 acres of land?
— AIM (@MisterAlbie) February 27, 2016
While Kenyatta’s comments were reportedly intended to encourage Kenyans to work hard, the President has been accused of failing to do enough to clampdown corruption. The country has been struggling to curb rampant cases of corruption in the public and private sector. The 2015 Corruption Index, Transparency International ranked Kenya as a very corrupt country in the east African region.
Earlier this month, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari made controversial remarks about the reputation of Nigerian citizens abroad. Responding to a question on the legitimacy of asylum seekers in the UK, Buhari said: “…again some Nigerians have also made it difficult for Europeans and Americans to accept them because of the number of Nigerians in different prisons all over the world accused of drug trafficking or human trafficking”.
The remarks caused a major uproar, which prompted the presidency to issue a statement clarifying Buhari’s statements, saying had been misinterpreted.