The huge differences between President Kenyatta's 'lively' talks with Trump and Buhari's 'lifeless' talk with him

President Kenyatta’s visit came just hours after Trump reportedly described Nigerian President Buhari as “lifeless” after their April meeting.

  • President Kenyatta’s visit came just hours after Trump reportedly described Nigerian President Buhari as “lifeless” after their April meeting.
  • Business Insider Sub Saharan Africa examines the difference and similarities between President’s Kenyatta and Buhari meetings with President Trump.

President Trump welcomed President Kenyatta and said it was honour hosting the Kenyan leader and the two countries’ relationship was but growing bigger by the hour.

“Thank you very much. It’s great to have President Kenyatta of Kenya, and First Lady Kenyatta. Thank you very much for being here. It’s a great honour.

We have a tremendous relationship with Kenya. We have terrorism, a lot of trade, getting bigger and bigger all the time,” said Trump.

President Kenyatta who becomes the third African president to hold talks with President Trump after Egypt’s Fattah el-Sisi and Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari echoed Trumps sentiments and said Kenya and US relations was strong and solid.

“Yes. I want to just take this opportunity to thank Mr. President and the First Lady for welcoming us here to the White House.

As President Trump has said, Kenya and United States have had strong, solid relationships ever since our independence. We are here to renew that partnership. We are here to strengthen it. We have had very good and excellent cooperation, especially in our fight against terrorism because of the neighborhood that we’re in — al-Shabaab fights, which the United States have been a very good, strong, and solid partner,”

According to a source that spoke to the Financial Times, Trump allegedly told his aides that he never wanted to meet someone so lifeless again, in reference to the 75-year-old Nigerian leader.

“The first meeting, with Nigeria’s ailing 75-year-old Muhammadu Buhari in April, ended with the US president telling aides he never wanted to meet someone so lifeless again, according to three people familiar with the matter.”

So coming just months apart, Business Insider Sub Saharan Africa examines the difference and similarities between President’s Kenyatta and Buhari meetings with President Trump.

Lively vs Lifeless

Based on the facial expressions and even the mood of their discussions as captured by the media, President Kenyatta’s discussion with Trump was more lively compared to Buhari’s ‘lifeless’ interaction with Trump.

President Kenyatta and Trump began their talks on high note noting how close Kenya and US were with President Trump setting the tone which Kenyatta picked and run with it.

President Trump who seemed to be in a jolly mood even asked his guest if he would like to say something obviously reading from the same script.

The mood was, however, very different and all serious when President Trump met with the Nigerian leader in April.

President Buhari looking frail didn’t help in alleviating the mood and picked on the sour note.

The two then went on and on in a colorless monotone about terrorism challenges bedeviling Africa’s biggest economy.

Some would even argue that watching Trump-Buhari’s talk was a pain and hence you won’t blame him for describing it a lifeless. I am sure Nigeria is more than Boko Haram and terrorism, don’t you think so?

Good vs bad timing

President Buhari’s visit to the US came at a time Nigeria was battling with serious insecurity challenges and the fighting between Nigerian farmers and herders was getting worse.

Just a few weeks before Buhari’s visit, 110 Nigerian schoolgirls had been kidnapped by Boko Haram militants in the town of Dapchi. 104 girls were later freed and reunited with their families according to the Nigerian government.

Combined with other factors such as a sluggish economy all combined to make their talks ‘lifeless’

On the other hand, Kenyatta’s visit couldn’t have come at a better moment.

President Kenyatta met Trump while riding high on the success of the recently concluded US-Kenya Trade Conference where deals worth Sh10 billion (approximately US $100m) were signed.

Similarly, after years of lucrative road contracts going to the Chinese, Kenya awarded an American contractor, Bechtel, the contract to build the country’s first expressway that is expected to reduce travel time between Nairobi and Mombasa by half at a cost of Sh300 billion ($3 billion) in July.

Kenya’s national carrier, Kenya Airways also recently signed an agreement with American-based aircraft maker Boeing that will see the local airline access the latter’s global network of spare parts and on-demand services, effectively becoming the first airline in Africa to have access to Boeing’s consumable and expendable services.

The cherry of the pie, of course, is the much-awaited KQ’s maiden trip to the United States in October which President Kenyatta is highly expected to be onboard.

Now you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know which conversation would be engaging, juicer and to be looked forward to, something President Trump clearly noticed and couldn’t hide.

"We have lots of pictures and lots of people that tell me how beautiful your country is. And we do a lot of tourism. We do a lot of trade. And we do a lot of defense and security. And we’re working very much on security right now. And I appreciate you very much being with us and your staff. This is really great. Your representatives have been dealing with our representatives and making a lot of progress. We’re talking about a very major highway/roadway. And that seems to be going along well. That’s a very important project, I think, for your country," Trump stated after meeting with President Kenyatta.

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