Kenya: A Hotbed Of Culture For Obama Homecoming

By Robert Aseda


When the leader of the world sneezes, the globe catches a cold.

Without a doubt President Barrack Obama, is not just the president of the United States of America, but he is also considered as the leader of the world. This isn’t just because of his enviable position as the president of the super power nation, but also because of his personal charm, grace, oratory skills, vivaciousness among others.

On Friday, Air Force one landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and out of the doors, President Obama waltzed down the steps, making an emotional reunion with his father’s country, almost three decades after his maiden entrance went virtually unnoticed.

Whereas the main event was supposed to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, it was overshadowed by a euphoric crowd and a dazzled media that paid more attention to the size of his fleet, the superpower Beast, the protocol and body language, among other side shows.

That is not to say that the president’s visit to the land of his father wasn’t fruitful. The Global Entrepreneurship summit, provided an opportunity for entrepreneurs especially young people and women to showcase what the country could offer.

In his opening remark, President Uhuru Kenyatta, took a clever swipe at international media houses especially CNN which had had described Kenya as a hotbed of terror, insisting Kenya is a hotbed of culture.

Apart from the summit itself, the world leader had an opportunity to share with civil society organizations and opposition leaders of the world they want.

In all the niceties and the royal welcome, the ‘controversial’ issue of gay rights, an issue where the nations’ views are as divergent as land and the sky, hang over like the proverbial sword of Damocles.

However the disagreement, glared publicly by international media houses, was firm but gentle with Kenya insisting it was a non-issue.

It was however the US President, in my biased opinion, who passionately made a case for respecting human rights, no matter what.

“I believe in the principle of treating people equally under the law, and that they are deserving of equal protection under the law and that the state should not discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation. I am unequivocal on this.

When you start treating people differently not because of any harm they are doing to anybody, but because they are different, that’s the path whereby freedoms begin to erode.”

Through his personal journey as a an African American, he told of his struggles and how it really felt like to be discriminated based on profiling on colour and other stereotypes strongly embedded in culture and given tooth by skewed legal environment that provided for excuses for even denial of fundamental rights such as voting and freedom of association and dignity.

And as the serious business was going on, Kenyans, in their usual eccentric nature descended on social media especially Twitter to hit back at perceived enemies of the state including CNN for inaccurate and deliberate misrepresentation of Kenya (#SomeoneTellCNN), idolize Auma Obama (first civilian to step into the Beast) make fun of the non-issue based reporting of the Kenyan media(#KenyaMediaFailure), display Luo pride (Obama is a Luo, Raila Odinga is a Luo, Gor Mahia Football Club is Luo, Lupita Nyong’o, Robert Aseda among several other great men and women) and comically make fun of Alfred Mutua, the Machakos Governor, who had in 2006 referred to President Obama as a junior senator from Illinois who is yet to mature. The Internet doesn’t forget, huh?

As he briskly climbed back into Air Force one on Sunday, Kenyans will hope that the seeds of women empowerment, human rights, democracy, good governance, good health planted will find fertile soils and that it will only be a matter of time before Kenya and Africa can truly reap the fruits of our forefathers desires.


Image via Guardian




ROBERT ASEDA is the Partnerships and Policy Officer at the Network for Adolescents and Youth of Africa-Kenya Chapter, a youth led advocacy network that does sexual and reproductive health and rights advocacy. He has a BSc. Population Health from Kenyatta University. He has undergone training on budget advocacy, policy advocacy and media advocacy by Planned Parenthood Global and Choice for Youth and Sexuality of the Netherlands. He has been involved in the ICPD process and is currently the chairman of the National Youth Consortium on the POST2015 Development Agenda comprising of young people from organizations working in the area of sexual and reproductive health and rights in Kenya. He is also a radio personality, a creative blogger, poet and a regular contributor to local dailies in Kenya. Connect with him on twitter: @Varaq

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