Former U.S President Barack Obama visited the village of his father on Monday, where he addressed a delegation attending the opening ceremony of a school in Kogelo, western Kenya. He praised the rapprochement between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga. Emphasizing that much still has to be done to heal the political wounds of the country’s ethnic groups.
The former leader of the free world urged Kenya’s leaders to turn their backs on divisive ethnic politics which has been the cause of violence during every election cycle and encourage the fight against widespread corruption.
The ethnic conflict which recently broke out in the country left some 1,200 people killed from post-election disputes involving Odinga and Kenyatta in 2007.
As America’s first black president, Obama’s eight years in office before Donald Trump, was in Kenya to help launch his half-sister, Auma’s charity center, the Sauti Kuu Foundation, he said ”It means no longer seeing different ethnicities as enemies or rivals but rather as allies; in seeing the diversity of tribes not as weakness but as strength”
His trip to Kenya is his fourth, with the first made in 1987, as narrated in his book ”Dreams From My Father”, then in 2006 while serving as a senator for the U.S. state of Illinois and then in 2015 during his last term as president.
Obama also mentioned the corruption scandals that have dogged Kenyatta’s administration in recent months. He said corruption stifled economic growth and derails the public trust in government.
Since the re-election of Uhuru Kenyatta, the media in Kenya have reported about a series of graft scandals which opened an investigation that has seen 54 people, mostly civil servants charged in the theft of nearly $100 million of state funds at the National Youth Service.
His next stop will be South Africa, where he’s expected to deliver a speech at an event marking the 100th birthday of iconic Nelson Mandela.
BaretaNews Foreign Correspondent/Analyst