Kenyans await Obama's visit with cautious optimism
14 July 2015, 21:39
Nairobi - The upcoming maiden visit by the U. S. President
Barack Obama to the land of his ancestors has elicited mixed reactions
from citizens of all stripes.
Obama's first visit to Kenya as the U.S. president has been described
as historic by the east African nation's ruling elite, scholars and
President Obama will grace the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in
Nairobi on July 25-26 in Nairobi and preparations for his visit are in
The American leader's visit to his homeland is not only eagerly
awaited, but has as well triggered differing viewpoints from Kenyans
across the ethnic, gender, class and sectarian divide.
Kenyan scholars, entrepreneurs and ordinary citizens who spoke to
Xinhua separately dates agreed that Obama's visit will be a watershed
Patrick Maluki, a Diplomacy Scholar at the University of Nairobi,
hailed Obama's visit to the country of his ancestors, but warned against
"We are privileged to host the leader of the free world later in the
month, but his maiden trip is purely official and has negligible
sentimental value attached to it," Maluki told Xinhua.
He added President Obama will focus mainly on bilateral cooperation
with Kenya in strategic areas like trade, security, energy and
Obama's visit to Kenya to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit
was revealed early this year and triggered a frenzy that has not
subsidized to date.
The Kenyan media has been awash with intricate details surrounding
the trip while pundits have offered different opinions on the
implication of the trip.
Maluki opined that while Obama's visit will be rich in symbolism, it might not unleash immediate benefits to ordinary Kenyans.
"It is true that history will be rewritten when President Obama lands
in this city. The power, glamour and prestige associated with his
office will be visible. Nevertheless, we should allow realism to prevail
since President Obama will not solve our myriad problems instantly,"
Maluki told Xinhua.
He stressed that Obama will represent American interests during his
brief visit to Kenya and will not allow himself to be dragged into
"We must put our house in order and position ourselves to grab
opportunities to be realized through improved bilateral ties with
America. To expect a basket of goodies from President Obama is wishful
thinking," Maluki said.
The Kenyan government has made adequate preparations to host
President Obama at the first Global Entrepreneurship Summit to be held
in Sub-Saharan Africa.
National leaders have reassured the public that adequate measures
have been put in place to ensure the visit in smooth and fruitful.
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday told business executives that
Kenya felt honored to host President Obama and anticipate a windfall
after the visit.
Kenyan pundits are of the view that President Obama`s visit will
strike an emotional chord with a large swathe of citizens who revere his
Steve Ndegwa, a social and political commentator noted that Obama's
charm is still pronounced and Kenyans will be eager to get a glimpse of
their son who rose from obscurity to the apex of global power.
He emphasized Obama's visit will have sentimental value, but may not translate into tangible benefits for ordinary Kenyans.
"President Obama's brief sojourn in Kenya will of course mark an
important milestone in our country's history. However, I do not
anticipate earthshaking results when he departs," said Ndegwa.
Ordinary Kenyans have remained cautiously optimistic despite the frenzy surrounding President Obama's visit to his motherland.
Daniel Kamau, a newspaper vendor, hailed Obama's maiden visit to
Kenya, but warned against hyperbole that might lead to disappointment.
During an interview with Xinhua, Kamau said he will still attend to
his daily chores despite the presence of President Obama in town.
"President Obama will represent his government and American people
during his visit to Kenya and we should not expect him to perform
miracles. We must therefore take charge of our destiny with or without
Obama's helping hand," Kamau said.
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