Obama’s visit to Kenya has been heralded by many to be a historical event, as he is the first sitting President of the United States to visit the country. In his speech while at the capital, Nairobi, Obama said that the country had witnessed major changes during his lifetime.
However, Obama was also quick to point out the glaring socio-economic issues that pull back development in Kenya, some of which include the rising insecurity mainly brought about by terrorist attacks by the al-Shabaab Islamist terror group, not to mention the rampant corruption.
On the problems faced by ordinary citizens, Obama said that some tough choices had to be made in order to overcome them.
This is according to the New York Times.
“Obama also addressed the subject of female genital mutilation in the country saying, ‘These traditions may date back centuries. They have no place in the 21st century.’ “
This is according to CBS News.
“On his arrival, Obama was greeted by thousands of revelers cheering, waving, and donning Obama-themed apparel. Thousands more lined the streets to wave at his presidential motorcade.”
That said, Obama’s security detail was on high alert, as the country has recently experienced numerous terrorist attacks. The following is according to William Bellamy, who is a former U.S envoy to Kenya.
“There is a threat level that would be higher here than for most trips … This is going out and about in a country that has a very live and not under control terrorist insurgency … It’s a trickier proposition.”
However, Susan Rice, who is the president’s national security advisor, recently stated that all the security hot points had been addressed prior to his trip.
“Obviously, we wouldn’t be taking this trip if we thought that security conditions precluded us from doing so. But it is important to note that Kenya in particular — Ethiopia less recently — has been the victim of terrorism, primarily perpetrated by Al-Shabaab.”
As such, Obama’s movement and that of the crowds was severely restricted during the visit to his father’s homeland to the disappointment of the crowds.
In regards to the circumstances of his trip, Obama had a solemn wish.
“I’ll be honest with you: Visiting Kenya as a private citizen is probably more meaningful to me than visiting as a president, because I can actually get outside of a hotel room or a conference center.”
This is as reported by Politico.
[Photo by Pete Marovich — Pool / Getty Images]