Kenya – Karibu Obama
Euphoria! A perfect word to explain the current mood in Kenya as their eminent son comes home to attend a Global Entrepreneurship Summit on Saturday. For the past week, preparations have been under-way, everything in Kenya has been ‘Obamacentric’. Enterprising men and women have seized the opportunity to make quick cash. Artists across Nairobi have painted portraits of Obama. T-shirts with the face of the US president have been on sale. Caterers are not left out of the frenzy as Obama cakes are on display in shops. Billboards, posters, and the American flag litter the streets of Nairobi. And though authorities have denied that it has anything to do with the president’s visit, there’s been a special attention to street sanitation, and repair of infrastructure. Homeless people were also moved out of the streets.
Beefing up security has been a huge part of the preparation, as the country has been a target of terrorist attacks in recent times. Hundreds of American security agents have arrived Kenya these past weeks. The airspace has been closed and parts of the nation’s capital are on a lockdown. The issue of security and counter-terrorism is definitely up for discussion between president Obama and Kenyatta. Kenya has been targeted by Islamist terror group al-Shabab, for its anti-terrorist involvement in Somalia.
With Kenya known to be one of Africa’s leading innovation and investment hub, and the recently signed African Growth and Opportunity Act in Washington on Wednesday, trade and entrepreneurship must be on the agenda for this visit. At the White House reception, Obama praised Africa saying the continent has some of the fastest-growing market in the world, with the potential to be the next centre of global economic opportunity.
Though human rights is a plausible topic for discussion between both presidents, the issue of gay rights is unlikely to be discussed, it has been declared a “non-issue” by Kenyatta. Perhaps in talking about human rights, Obama might chip it in, he did say recently that he is not a fan of discriminating anyone on the basis of sexual orientation or gender. Hopefully, he says nothing and remains in the good book of Kenyans. Some have threatened to throw rotten eggs at him if he speaks out in favour of gay/lesbian rights. And an anti-homosexual rally threatened to be staged on the streets of Nairobi was cancelled at the last minute.