By TZ Business News Staff as Monitored From Tukuyu.
Former US President Barack Obama returned ‘home’ to Kenya with a message against gender imbalance in education, against tribalism and economic inequality in the East African nation.
Obama also spoke against corruption in Kenya, the ancestral home of his father, where he traveled to after quietly spending an eight-day holiday in Tanzania with his family.
Media reports in Tanzania said Obama arrived in a private plane with his wife Michelle and other family members including daughters Maria and Sasha. A source in Arusha who
guided the Obama’s said the lack of fanfare during their 8-day stay in Tanzania was due to the family’s request for privacy.
Obama arrived in Nairobi, Kenya on Sunday, July 15, 2018 after the holiday in northern Tanzania, where security officials had kept his presence hushed as requested, to disclose it toward the end of the holiday in the Serengeti National park. Obama was seen away by the Tanzania Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Augustine Mahiga.
After a brief stop over in Nairobi where he met President Uhuru Kenyatta, the former US President traveled to Kogelo village in Siaya district of Nyanza Province to meet his family and officiate the opening of a youth vocational training centre built by his half sister, Auma Obama . On Monday, July 16, 2018, Obama spoke as Chief Guest of Honor at the opening ceremony of the youth vocational training centre named after his father, as Sauti Kuu: The Barack Hussein Obama Sr. Centre for Knowledge, Learning and Excellence.
The centre was built by Obama’s half sister with assistance from Germany and a number of other donors. In his speech at the ceremony, Obama praised Kenya for progress the country has made in recent decades but he also advised that attention may be needed to meet challenges that remain, including corruption and tribalism.
Obama said he returns to Kenya “as a brother” then issued advice on a larger context “on what is possible”.
“Its good to be back!” Obama greeted a cheering audience. “Thank you so much all of you for this extraordinary welcome. And I am grateful for your hospitality; I am grateful for your friendship. It is good to be back with so many people who are family to me, and so many people who claim to be family to me. Everybody is a cousin!
“…today I am really comin as a brother; as a citizen of the world; as someone with a connection to Africa, to talk about the importance of what she [Auma] is doing, but also to create a larger context for what’s possible. … today we open the vocational training centre; I had a chance to look around; and it is a remarkable space…I wanna thank obviously all the people that made this possible. The incredible generosity that has been shown.
“But as I looked around there was something that was less concrete. It wasn’t bricks and mortar. I saw a possibility. The hope that we can become something bigger than we are; the thought about all the young people in the years to come who will learn here and grow here, and dream bigger than they do.
“Kenya has made extraordinary strides in recent decades. The barriers of progress that a yough Kenyan faces today aren’t as rigid as those that might have faced previous generations. A young Kenyan doesn’t have to do what my grandfather did—and serve a foreign master. A young Kenyan doesn’t have to do what my father did; and leave home to get an education. So there has been real progress in this amazing country; and it should inspire young Kenyans to demand even more progress.
“The good news is Kenya has a new constitution. It has a new spirit of investment; and entrepreneurship–despite some of the tumultuous times that seem to attend every election; we now have a President and a major opposition leader who have pledged to build bridges and have made specific commitments to work together.
“…Kenya is all part of an emergent, more confident and more self reliant Africa. But we know that real progress requires addressing the challenges that remain. It means rooting out the corruption…it means no longer seeing different ethnicities as enemies or rivals, but rather as allies; and seeing the diversity of tribes not as weakness but as a strength. It means making sure that economic growth reaches everyone and not just a few at the top; that it is broadly shared across regions. It means guaranteeing educational opportunity to everybody–not just our boys, but also our girls. Because the nation that gives the same opportunities to our girls as our sons is more likely to succeed.,” Obama said.
A Luo elderly woman given an opportunity to speak asked Obama to encourage American investment into Kenya. She also asked the former President to “find somebody in your country who can address the issue of water hyacinth.
“I know that America has some way of dealing with water hyacinth. It is denying our livelihood. Please, please, find somebody in your country that can address the issue of water hyacinth that is causing havoc to the health of our people.”
Founder of Sauti Kuu: The Barack Hussein Obama Sr. Centre for Knowledge, Learning and Excellence, Auma Obama told the audience at the opening ceremony, “I want you to know I am not special. Anyone can do what I have done.”