President Obama Still a Hit in Kenya During a ‘Private Citizen’ Trip

President Barack Obama and sister Auma Obama

Former President Barack Obama turned up in Kenya this week at the Sauti Kuu Resource Centre – a community center to fight poverty launched by his sister, Dr. Rita Auma Obama.

It was a quick detour from a week spent in Tanzania where Mr. Obama and his wife Michelle toured the Serengeti National Park.

After a brief stop at the State House to meet with President Uhuru Kenyatta, and later with opposition leader Raila Odinga, Obama headed to K’Ogelo, his father’s birthplace and home of Sauti Kuu – Kiswahili for “Strong Voices’. As conceived by his sister Auma, the center will engage young people through a sports facility, a library, a computer center and a vocational training center.

It was the former president’s follow up trip since visiting his ancestral K’Ogelo, his father’s birthplace, and his first since his trip as president three years ago.

News of his impending two-day visit spread like wildfire and a week before his arrival, top hotels in Kisumu were flooded with international visitors. Flights into Kisumu International Airport were fully booked and the streets teamed with traders selling caps, calendars, t-shirts and other items bearing Mr. Obama’s image.

Security was tight at the Sauti Kuu affair and some of the invited dignitaries, including the local governor, chafed at having to be searched at the door. After giving a greeting in Swahili to much applause, Mr. Obama was generous in his praise for the crowd’s warm welcome. “It’s a joy to be back,” he said, “with so many people who are family to me and so many people who claim to be family to me. Everybody’s a cousin,” he said to laughter.

While he and Dr. Obama hadn’t grown up together, they met later in Nairobi, when he was 27 years old and they traveled together to his family’s home town. “We traveled by train and it wasn’t a bullet train,” he recalled. “Then there was a bus and some chickens in my lap and some potatoes digging into my side,” he said to more laughter. Visiting his “home square” and his father’s grave, he said he found a sense of satisfaction “that no 5 star hotel could ever provide.”

“I tell you that story because I could not be more proud of what my sister has accomplished.”

Completing his trip will be a stop in South Africa where the country celebrates the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth. Obama will deliver the Mandela Day lecture, reputed to be his most important public address since leaving the White House.

 

Source via Global Information Network

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