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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Obama's Trip To Kenya In 1987 and His 2015 Visit Compared (Photos)

 Culled from The Telegraph

Barack Obama in Kenya: how this trip compares to his 1987 visit. An interesting read!
 The reception waiting for US President Barack Obama is a far cry from his arrival in Nairobi as a young community organiser 29 years ago.
When Barack Obama flies into Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport this evening, he will do so on board Air Force One, accompanied by dozens of aides, hundreds of journalists and thousands of security staff. Also travelling in his delegation are some of America's wealthiest and most powerful businessmen.
The airspace around the airport will be closed as his plane, escorted by a fleet of military helicopters, touches down on the tarmac.
Waiting at the bottom of the red carpet is likely to be Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta as well as a host of dignitaries and business leaders.
Mr Obama will step into his armour-plated limousine The Beast and the roads around the capital of East Africa's largest economy will be closed as his convoy, protected by the best – trained security teams on earth, whisks him to the country's most luxurious hotels.
The scenes are a far cry from Obama's arrival in Nairobi as a young community organiser 29 years ago.
Keen to understand his father's homeland and meet his Kenyan relatives, he flew from the US only for his half-sister Auma to be late to pick him up. British Airways lost his luggage and an airport official tried to cadge cigarettes off him before asking that if was from the United States, he knew his cousin in Texas.
When his sister eventually arrived to collect him, it was in a beaten up Volkswagen Beetle that was so old, Mr Obama joked he might have to get out and push.

The following is an extract from his book Dreams of my Father about his arrival in 1987.
Kenyatta International Airport was almost empty. Officials sipped at their morning tea as they checked over passports; in the baggage area, a creaky conveyor belt slowly disgorged luggage …. After a few minutes, a security guard with a wooden club started toward me. I looked around for an ashtray, thinking I must be in a no-smoking area, but instead of scolding me, the guard smiled and asked if I had another cigarette to spare.
“This is your first trip to Kenya, yes?” he asked as I gave him a light.
“That’s right.”
“I see.” He squatted down beside me. “You are from America. You know my brother’s son, perhaps. Samson Otieno. He is studying engineering in Texas.”
---
The rush of anticipation had drained away, and I smiled with the memory of the homecoming I had once imagined for myself, clouds lifting, old demons fleeing, the earth trembling as ancestors rose up in celebration. Instead I felt tired and abandoned. I was about to search for telephone when a security guard reappeared with a strikingly beautiful woman, dark, slender, close to six feet tall, dressed in a British Airways uniform. She introduced herself as Miss Omoro and explained that my bag had probably been sent to Johannesburg by mistake …
“You wouldn’t be related to Dr Obama, by any chance?” she asked.
“Well, yes - he was my father.”
Miss Omoro smiled sympathetically. “I’m very sorry about his passing. Your father was a close friend of my family’s. He would often come to our house when I was a child.”
 ---
This had never happened before, I realised; not in Hawaii, not in Indonesia, not in L.A or in New York or Chicago. For the first time in my life, I felt the comfort, the firmness of identity that a name might provide, how it could carry an entire history in other people’s memories, so that they might nod and say knowingly, “Oh, you are so and so’s son.” No one here in Kenya would ask how to spell my name, or mangle it with an unfamiliar tongue. My name belonged and so I belonged, drawn into a web of relationships, alliances, and grudges that I did not yet understand.
---
“Barack!” I turned to see Auma jumping up and down behind another guard, who wasn’t letting her pass into the baggage area. I excused myself and rushed over to her, and we laughed and hugged, as silly as the first time we’d met. A tall, brown-skinned woman was smiling beside us, and Auma turned and said. “Barack, this is our Aunti Zeituni. Our father’s sister.”
“Welcome home,” Zeituni said, kissing me on both cheeks.
I told them about my bag and said that there was someone here who had known the Old Man. But when I looked back to where I’d been standing, Miss Omoro was nowhere in sight. I asked the security guard where she had gone. He shrugged and said that she must have left for the day.
---
Auma drove an old, baby-blue Volkswagen Beetle. the car was something of a business venture for her ... Unfortunately, the engine had come down with a tubercular knock, and the muffler had fallen off on the way to the airport. As we spluttered out onto the four-lane highway, Anna clutching the steering wheel with both hands, I couldn't keep from laughing.
"Should we get out and push?"



When News Breaks Out, We Break In. (The 2014 Bloggies Finalist)

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