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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Wednesday, January 24, 2018


President Obama arrives to warm hug from half sister at Kenya airport

On his first visit as president to his father’s homeland

Share on Facebook July 25, 2015, Reporter : BigNewsNet, Reader : 408


NAIROBI US President Barack Obama arrived in Kenya on Friday, on his first visit as president to his father's homeland, to a welcome from President Uhuru Kenyatta and a warm hug from his half sister Auma Obama.

Obama, who interacted with family members in his first engagement after landing in Kenya, has a busy weekend schedule that includes an international business summit, state dinner and major public address.

Obama arrived to a red carpet welcome as Air Force One touched down at Jobo Kenyatta International Nairobi shortly after 8 p.m. A little girl wearing a white dress curtsied and presented him a bouquet of flowers.

Obama signed a guest book at the airport tarmac, with President Kenyatta standing over his shoulder, and also interacted briefly with the ministers and officials waiting at the airport to welcome him. Later, Obama and Auma drove off to his hotel in the Beast, the presidential limousine.

Obama spent Friday evening with family members who have travelled to Nairobi, including his step-grandmother, Mama Sarah.

At the dinner table, Obama sat next to Mama Sarah, wearing a gold-colored headscarf, and his half-sister, Auma Obama, at the restaurant inside the Villa Rosa Kempinski hotel in Nairobi.

Members of Obama's extended family filled two long tables surrounding the president, and all were smiling broadly in happiness.

Sarah was the third wife of the president's paternal grandfather. Though she's affectionately called Mama Sarah by many, but to President Obama, she's just Granny.

Obama is the first sitting US president to visit Kenya. His trip is intended to deepen US trade and security ties in East Africa.

Kenyans are treating Obama's visit as a homecoming, and excitement has reached a fever pitch.

Street vendors are selling T-shirts with Obama's photo and the phrase "welcome home."

The last time Obama visited Kenya was in 2006, as an Illinois senator. During that trip, he was able to visit his father's village of Kogelo, which he won't repeat this time due to security and time constraints.

The president's father, Barack Obama Sr., left Kenya as a young man to study at the University of Hawaii. There he met Stanley Ann Dunham, a white woman from Kansas. They married and had a son, who was named after his father.

The elder Obama left Hawaii when his son was just two years old, first to continue his studies at Harvard, then to return to Kenya. The future president and his father met each other once more, when the son was 10 years old. Obama's father died in a car crash in 1982, at age 46.

"I didn't have a dad in the house," Obama said last year during a White House event for My Brother's Keeper, his initiative for young men. "I was angry about it, even though I didn't necessarily realize it at the time."

National Security Advisor Susan Rice said on Wednesday that Obama will not have time to visit the village where his family is rooted, but will make time to meet with family members while he's in Kenya.

Rice also said the trip will offer President Obama an opportunity to advance the US's trade and investment relationship with Africa, call for greater human rights protections and transparency in government.

The visit will help highlight American efforts to increase opportunities for the next generation of Africans.> BNN


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