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Kenyans Put Obama's Visit Under the Microscope

A matatu [local public transport] with American flag colours and the portraits of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and President Obama cruising Nairobi streets. Photo by Boniface Muthoni, copyright ©Demotix  (24/7/2015.

A matatu (local public transport) with American flag colours and the portraits of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and President Obama cruising Nairobi streets. Photo by Boniface Muthoni, Copyright Demotix (24/7/2015).

US President Barack Obama visited Kenya during his last trip to Africa as president. Kenya is the birthplace of his father.

Obama condemned Kenya’s treatment of gays and lesbians at a joint press conference with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. In a speech at Safaricom Indoor Arena in Nairobi, Obama called on Kenya's government to hold “visible” trials to tackle corruption, expand human rights and create a society more inclusive of women and girls, while also emphasising the need to fight terrorism. He said Kenya must tackle tribalism in order to grow.

Speaking at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, of which Kenya was co-host, Obama said Africa’s potential can be fulfilled by harnessing the power of its young people. He noted that Africa's time as a place of innovation has come.

As expected, his visit was a hot topic on social media and will continue to be discussed for a long time.

The Kenya Post observed that Obama’s visit took Kenyan politicians including President Uhuru down a notch, turning them into “schoolchildren”:

The visit by US President Barrack Obama to Kenya was in many ways significant not only because he was the first sitting US President to visit Kenya but also because it was the first time Kenyan politicians were made to look like school children.

MPs, Senators and even Governors were forced to abandon their trappings of power and trooped together like small kids wherever Obama was.

The politicians, who had been invited to attend the public address by the US President at Kasarani, arrived there in a bus like school children while others had to walk on foot all the way from Safari Park, where they left their cars, to the Kararani Gymnasium, where Obama gave his address.

The leaders, who are used to VIP treatment, also queued and went through normal security checks before they were allowed into the arena and near Obama.

The post continued:

And if you thought it was only MPs, Senators and Governors who were reduced to nothing before the US President, then you are wrong because our very own President Uhuru Kenyatta, his Deputy, William Ruto, Cabinet Secretaries and other leaders, including those from the Opposition led by former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, were also meant to arrive at the venue earlier than usual and sat in the crowd like everybody else.

Another commenter chirped that Kenya became part of the US during Obama's visit:

You all need to know that Kenya during that weekend was part of the United States and not Kenya. US had taken over and even Obama said on camera that he was at home.

‘Serious gaffes’

Writing for the Kenya Post, F. Gori came up with a list of things that went wrong when Obama arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, including the fact that the Kenyan deputy president wasn't part of Obama's welcoming party and that Obama's “body language towards [President] Uhuru was hmmmm not so warm”:

There were serious gaffes which should have been avoided. While signing the visitors book, Uhuru should have had a seat next to Obama, not standing next to him. Two, an excited Uhuru moved Obama’s chair- playing an aide de camp of sorts. THREE, as Obama convoy left, Uhuru was left standing somewhere, almost looking stranded (oops)! Protocol chaps could have done better. Many lessons to learn here for future engagements.

Commenting on Gori’s post, Sam said:

currently every body is an analyst even those with no idea…… Get live

An anonymous commenter reacted:

Global enterprenuer summit is why Obama came to Kenya. Focus on the business opportunities not side shows.

While Dre joked:

Uhuru was lyk a bodyguard left stranded wearing an oversized suit. ..

Tribal politics

During his public speech, Obama warned of tribal politics saying, “A politics that’s based solely on tribe and ethnicity is a politics that’s doomed to tear a country apart. It is a failure; a failure of imagination.”

Those remarks led to a blogger at Kenya Today asking whether Obama was indirectly blasting Kenyatta’s government for tribal appointments?:

Barrack Obama spoke about something. I read between lines and I can assure you that this son of ours with a mother from Kansas understands the state of affairs in Kenya, Africa for that matter.
That you do not need to come from a particular community for you to be the world’s Steve Job or Bill Gates as far as entrepreneurship. Let your surname never limit you. This one goes out to all those tribal morons.
The statement by Obama goes out to offer hope to the thousands of the jobless youth who have been marginalized in employment opportunities in public and private sector.

Anzo disagreed saying Obama did not dwell on tribal politics:

Obama didn’t talk tribe as in your imagination.he is neither a luo or kenyan american president,he is a product of his genius. tribes don’t get opportunities,individuals do.create that business of your genius and you won’t need your tribe to succeed.your tribe ain’t marginalized,only you who has not done it for yourself.may be your tribe will be better off without you.get your tribe off your head and you will have made the first step.

Gay rights

Commenting on Obama’s call to respect gay rights in Kenya, one online commenter Jo asked Obama to use his influence to defend polygamy instead of homosexuality since both the US and Kenyan presidents are products of polygamy:

If BHO senior had been a homosexual we would never have enjoyed this moment.
I support [Deputy President] Ruto against Obaminations and suggest to Uncle Barry to devote his enormous influence energy and resources to support and defend polygamy as an African thing that produced both him and his host His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta in 1961.

Barlet clarified Obama’s position on gay rights:

Sexual orientation is not the act. By deciding to have a family it means potus disallows the act itself. What he says is that we should not discriminate them on the basis of their colour, creed, sex etc.

The future

On Kenya Today, Mama Mona and Nely drew eight critical lessons from Obama’s visit and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, including:

1. Always remain Authentic and grounded. Obama epitomises that.
2. Everyone has a story. Connect to yours. Know where you are from, where you are now and from there be clear where you are going. Keep the Auma and Dani Sarah in your family always close.

And blogger Dana joked on local news site that Kenyans can expect the following baby names following Obama’s visit:

The Beast came, Auma [Obama’s step sister] was hugged by the Forty fourth president of the United States, Air force one came, Global Entrepreneur Summit took place in Kenya, CNN ‘attacked’ Kenya.
Below are some baby’s names we should expect to see kenyan mums naming their kids in relation to the recent events.

1. Beast Onyango
2. Potus Oloo Odek
3. Obama Hug Auma Akech
4. GES [Global Entrepreneurship Summit] Kariuki Maina
5. Air force One Wamalwa
6. Beast Kiptanui..
7. Kidero Grass Omollo
8. Secret Service Amolo…
9. Barack Abdul Wakesho
10. Obama Oloo Otis
11. United States Wafula..
12. Unknown Destination Wanyonyi
13. Niaje Wasee Kamau…
14. Hawayuni Kipchumba..
15. Global Summit Sindiyo
16. HotBed kamau

  • rotten eddie

    There is something very perverted and sinister about a U.S President going to a third world country ,thousands of miles away and the first thing he wants to talk about are gays! like we have to protect them as an endangered species(?) What the heck is this fool doing? How immoral and vile is that?

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