This weekend we have witnessed how Kenyans have beamed with pride as the son of their soil came back home. President Barack Obama who proved to the world that “Yes we can”, by becoming the first black president of America, was in town for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit.
Kenyans were exhilarated by the fact that he is the first sitting American president to visit the country. This excitement was doubled by the fact that he traces his roots from a Kenyan father. Some of the ordinary Kenyans did not even clearly understand the purpose of the visit. The media also helped at shifting the focus of the visit, with most of them branding it, “Obama homecoming”. It’s only natural for people to feel a sense of entitlement at the success, achievement and pride accompanying being associated with a big name.
I too was not left out of the jubilation, as history took place. I followed the proceedings of the grand weekend on television. For a social commentator, some moments are worth putting down on paper. Here are some highlights that stood out for me:
The most powerful man in the world stooped low to hug the little girl who handed him a wreath of flowers. He kept every one waiting to hug the girl, Joan Wamaitha and to take a photo with her. That eight year old orphan may not know who she hugged, but sixteen years to come; she will be proudly telling stories of how she was a part of history in the making.
The warm embrace that the siblings, president Obama and his sister Dr. Auma shared was another highlight. I waited for that moment, even predicting that he would hug her, while he was shaking the several hands that were on the line. It was obvious that she would steal the show from the position which she stood- at the end of the queue, waiting patiently with a smile, her hands tucked in her trouser pockets. She did not only show us the love shared between siblings, she left everyone in awe as she rode in the ‘beast’ together with her brother.
How Obama’s Kenyan kin were so determined to have him go to Siaya County, and visit his father’s grave. How almost everyone from Nyanza is somehow related to the powerful man, “Our brother”. They were even saying that you never announce to people when you are going home.
Obama himself said that Kenyans understand the need to handle family politics in large families. Getting to discover new relatives, having to apologize as to why he would not be visiting Kogelo, and being the US president at the same time. That is the beauty of being born to a Kenyan family. It is not only unique to Barack Obama, it is something that all pf us experience albeit in varied proportions, commensurate with our achievements.
After all is said and done, family remains. We therefore need the tact to relate with everyone at their own level, making them feel appreciated. We may have a leaf to borrow from Barack Hussein Obama.