U.S. President Barack Obama flew into Kenya late on Friday for his first presidential visit to his father’s homeland, aiming to boost trade and security ties in east Africa.
Obama’s Air Force One plane landed in the evening in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, where he will co-host a conference on boosting entrepreneurs on the African continent before travelling on to Ethiopia.
The step-grandmother of Barack Obama has left the Kenyan city of Kisumu on Friday to meet her grandson in the capital, Nairobi, on his first visit to his father’s homeland as president of the United States. Sarah Obama, the matriarch of the Obama family, said she will try to convince Barack to visit his father’s grave in her home village of Kogelo in western Kenya.
Sarah Obama was the second wife of Obama’s grandfather and helped raise his father, Barack Obama Sr. The president referred to her as “Granny” in his memoir, “Dreams from My Father.”
“Today, I am going to talk to him face to face,” Sarah Obama, who is in her 90s, said before boarding the Nairobi-bound plane. She said she would try to convince Obama to visit his father’s grave in the western village of Kogelo, though U.S. officials have said the president will not travel to the town on this visit.
“I will leave it to God,” said Sarah Obama, who walked with a cane.
Barack Obama, who visited Kogelo in 2006, referred to Sarah as “Granny” in his memoir “Dreams from My Father” and saw her last year in the United States.
Security concerns and the logistics of presidential travel will keep Obama at a distance from most Kenyans, and the U.S. Ambassador in Kenya said the U.S. President is not scheduled to make the journey to Kogelo during this trip.
Obama’s schedule includes a Sunday address at a Nairobi stadium that will be broadcast live on Kenyan radio and television. U.S. Ambassador Robert Godec said attendance is by invitation only to representatives from “a wide range of Kenyan society” despite speculation that huge crowds would gather.
“We discourage people from coming to the venue if they’re not explicitly invited,” Godec said.
Obama, whose father was Kenyan, will have time for meetings with relatives during his visit, said the ambassador.
Story compiled with information from Reuters and The Associated Press.