Kenya: New Direction for Kenyans after Obama’s Visit
By Davis Wamuha
US President Barrack Obama’s visit to the land of his father from July 23 -25, 2015 was greatly anticipated by many from his native land of Kenya. Preparations had kicked off a month before he visited Kenya with cleaning processes being conducted all over the places he would visit.
The capital of Kenya, Nairobi saw many youths and women benefit from contractual jobs that came up during the preparation for Obama’s homecoming. Some were employed to plant grass in various areas in the county while others were tasked with watering the grass.
Public service vehicles in most parts of the country were flying the United States flag high to show their support for Obama’s visit. Others went out of their way to put graphical designs on the vehicles in readiness for the much awaited day. Business was booming for many who came up with creative ways to make money while spreading the Obama’s visit theme.
Artists were not left behind on the frenzy as they also painted and drew portraits of the US president with his host the Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta. The artists were sure the portraits would get ready market as most Kenyans wanted to get their hands on at least one work of the artworks.
One James Muiruri was however doing his art for a very different purpose from his counterparts.
“I am doing my artwork so that maybe the US president will notice it and ask to meet me which would be a dream come true for me,” Muiruri said.
The reaction of happiness and anticipation was however not the case for all Kenyans as business owners were disappointed as they had to close their businesses for two consecutive days which heavily reflected some losses to some of them. Closure of businesses was however necessary to avoid congestion in the capital.
Others opted to get away from the chaos that would be in Nairobi come the much awaited day. Travel agencies were offering get away plans to Mombasa and other destination that would be less affected by this visit. Tourists who had planed to visit Nairobi or were already in Nairobi for the weekend had to relocate to Mombasa to avoid being caught in the frenzy.
Things escalated as Kenyans reacted to a comment made by a CNN journalist terming Kenya as a terror ‘hotbed’. This remark was made only two weeks to the visit and many feared that this would make the president change his mind about visiting Kenya due to insecurity. This remark was countered by many saying that the only thing Kenya was a ‘hotbed’ of is beauty and culture.
On the July 23, every Kenyan was probably glued to their TV screens watching as the US President Barrack Obama landed at the Jomo Kenyatta international airport in the American Presidential jet popularly known as the air force one. He alighted and greeted the host president Uhuru among other delegates present to welcome him after which he left his presidential motorcade abode the coveted ‘beast’ to an undisclosed location with his sister Ouma Obama who at that time was unknown to most Kenyans. This left many wondering who this mysterious lady was.
The US President together with business people and entrepreneurs on July 24 went to the UN headquarters in Gigiri to launch the sixth global entrepreneurship summit. Many people, most of who are entrepreneurs and business people flocked Nairobi for this once in a blue moon event. A large number of youth were attracted to this event as they wanted to make get the best out of it. Many young entrepreneurs were given a chance to address those in attendance and encourage if not challenge those that were still struggling with business or not sure entrepreneurship is the way to go.
Other invited business people and investors gave their remarks and interacted with the entrepreneur which was quite an experience for most of them. The summit was the day’s news in the country as every TV and radio station was airing the proceedings live from the venue.
The sixth global entrepreneur’s summit had exceeded many people’s expectations as it had brought positivity and healthy challenges which were immediately felt across the country. Most Kenyans had just gotten the much needed drive to pursue their dreams and others made transforming contacts. The following day, a Saturday, the US president visited various places in the capital of Kenya including the 1998 bomb last site. He however did not visit his father’s village in Kogello. This came as a disappointment to many people in Kisumu County as they were sure he would visit the place.
The gay rights issue which most Kenyans preferred he did not talk about was discussed at a press conference held at the state house in Nairobi where he said that everyone had their sexual preference and it was only right that they be allowed to participate in what they saw fit. President Uhuru however responded by saying that though they agreed on many things, legalizing gayism was not among them. This was the perfect response as many Kenyans and religious leaders supported their president because allowing same sex marriages is against the Kenyan beliefs and culture.
Far from that, the chair of the parliamentary Defense and Foreign Relations Committee noted that a close working relationship between Kenya and US would foster security, economic, and foreign policy interests which he said overlapped.
“America has proven a very committed ally of Kenya in the fight against extremism and terror in general but we expect to see President Obama reaffirm his commitment to continue supporting us,” said the chair Mr. Ndungu Githinji. He said that Kenya was a key target by terrorists because of its leading role in the fight against the vice particularly in Somalia where its troops are battling the Al-Shabaab militia under the AMISOM.
He further appealed to the European Union and other international partners, besides US, to sustain their support to the AMISOM troops until the terrorists are vanquished.
As he left on Sunday for Ethiopia, Barrack Obama promised that Kenya and the US would continue to work together to ensure prosperity and security in the country.
Many youth and women have since taken to entrepreneurship as a way to better their lives and become independent. The message of the GES has continued to be echoed by leaders across the country in a bid to keep the spirit going. The Kenyan government has urged youth and women to apply for the available funds to help themselves in starting their own businesses.
The full benefits of the sixth GES summit launched by the US president in Kenya is yet to be seen as many people are yet to come out of their comfort zones and do something on their own. It is however evident that most Kenyans have embraced the entrepreneurship spirit and are making the best out of it. It is anticipated that more youth and women will apply for the development funds sitting in various government funds. This will create employment and help avert some social vices like alcoholism.