While Barack Obama deals with a bunch of criticism of his domestic and international policies from all sides in America, he can sleep safe in the knowledge that there is at least one safe haven in the world where he will always be welcome and wanted. That is his father’s home town of Kogelo in Kenya where the now-president himself has spent some time.
As one market trader from the village told AFP, “Obama is a brand.” Hosea Owuor added that when it comes to everything Obama, “It’s a business.”
For his part, Owuor has invested in 400 T-shirts, all proudly bearing a picture of the president, ahead of his visit to to Kenya later this month. As it happens, Obama’s father was born in the rural village in the west of the country, so Barack’s story is truly one of “rags to riches,” almost literally.
One of Obama’s uncles spoke to reporters about his nephew’s visit there back in 1987, many years before he had any aspirations to become president. He said when Barack Obama officially entered American politics, his privacy, as well as the privacy of his Kenyan family, was seriously compromised.
However, as uncle Said told reporters, “Kogelo was just a sleepy village, nobody knew about it. His coming to power has really put Kogelo on the world map.”
He added, “Barack used to come here, sneak into the village without people noticing. We were in Nairobi driving in the matatus (mini-buses), going to places like Mathare (a slum), jumping over sewers, and nobody noticed,” he said, “When he became president that’s when we got the tarmac road and good water for drinking. This school got two classrooms, an office and a store. We got a police station. These things are coming because of him!”
Another villager, Nicholas Rajula, owner of the Kogelo Village Resort, is also thrilled about what Obama has done for his business, “President Obama has changed this village. In our culture we say everybody who comes to see (the president’s step-grandmother) Mama Sarah are Barack Obama’s visitors, so it is my duty as a village mate, as a cousin, to take care of his guests while he is away,” he said.
While Barack Obama might not be the most popular president the United States has ever had, it’s probably comforting for him to know that he is always welcome in the village of Kogelo, a village which has seen much success and prosperity since Obama became rose to fame.
[Image credit: richestcelebrities.org]