The U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter has incurred the wrath of many Africans on social media after he shared a picture he took with two school children who were denied visas for a trip to the U.S.
“In the visa line yesterday I met this fine young boy and girl. They are Kenya Chess Champions! Although a trip to the US was not possible this time I reminded them that They Are Champions & we are friends! This is the future of Kenya. #USAmarafiki,” he posted with the photo on Wednesday.
This post didn’t go down well with many Kenyans and Africans at large who questioned the reason for denying them visas while condemning his act of friendliness despite robbing the chess champions of their dream trip.
The ambassador, who became popular since his arrival into the East African country for his tweets in Swahili and association with locals, responded to some of the tweets explaining why they were denied and the stringent visa acquisition process.
Without giving an actual reason, he said in a series of tweets that there are unique circumstances to most cases like theirs and he was “consoling them because their visa situation was not going to change. All to do was encourage them and brag on them.”
“I think the USG needs to better manage people’s expectations on visas. I hear what you are saying. I will get some people together to discuss this and look for some good ideas. Why apply if you won’t qualify? Why pay the fee?” he replied to another tweet about the U.S. government’s penchant for shattering people’s expectations.
On the reasons why he gave them hope despite the embassy’s decision to deny them visas, he replied: “They are children. You don’t know the situation of their parents or guardians. We take all cases seriously.”
He defended his decision for posting their pics on social media saying: “Permission was granted. They are champions and everybody knows it. Including you. Celebrate it. Let’s not just criticize.”
Ambassador McCarter’s replies did not end the endless frustrations about the U.S. visa acquisition from being shared and his tweet transcended borders and got many social media users commenting about the situation.
Here are some more reactions to the Ambassador’s tweet:
The hopes of those kids were crushed when they were denied the visa. There’s a difference between doing something to support their dreams and plainly telling them that their dreams are valid. They are just kids who don’t understand why a paper denied them a chance to shine.— Milkah (@Milkah2) June 27, 2019
Visa’s get denied at times for various reasons but in my experience US-embassy has been among the fairest in issuing visa’s for Kenyan athletes lately.— Michel Boeting (@one4onesports) June 27, 2019
Good rapport building with these two kids. I hope you can make the trip possible. Come on I thought America can afford this…— Abu Shaahid (@ShaahidAbu) June 26, 2019
Would they have gotten a Visa if there were from Norway going to the Chess Championships?— Blush Beauty (@Blushnigeria) June 27, 2019
The US views anyone as a potential asylum seeker. Personally I wonder why anyone will go to a country where you’re most likely to be shot by the police or called a monkey. To know how wicked the system is, they denied @AnyangNyongo a visa and even labelled him a human trafficker!— Jusper Mogire (@mogire_jusper) June 27, 2019
My request is that when one is denied a visa the embassy to be direct on why i.e we feel you do not have strong roots here maybe try when married, employed etc or build stronger accounts then we feel you can afford to travel, the standard rejection paper is offensive— Bebe Nyakadina (@Nyarkadina) June 26, 2019
What A shame, was disappointed by this Ambassador. He goes ahead to inform us that the kids were denied Visas.— ANTHONEY MUGATHA (@AMugatha) June 27, 2019
Where are our friends the Chinese? There are many high level Chess tournaments in China. Seek out these girls and offer them a chance. Americans have denied them a chance. ??— Ben♖ (@mwirigitwit) June 27, 2019
From experience, and as a parent, denial of an objectively favourable legitimate expectation to children and persons of tender ages seeking actualization at respective competitive levels is their lowest, demoralizing, disappointing moment.— M.C. Shifwoka (@MCShifwoka) June 26, 2019
Let’s build and nurture Hope.
My little diplomatic experience makes me believe this move wasn’t very polite. You have negativley exposed those kids to public ridicule. Being denied a Visa is traumatic experience in itself too why make it public? Such info should remain private with the applicant.#USAmarafiki— Steve Machage (@stemachage) June 28, 2019
That is why Africa is the bank of the world natural endorsement. God invested heavily here and we cherish this wonderful experience. Karibu sana— Hon Mwise (@augustinemwera) June 26, 2019