, NAIROBI, Kenya, July 24 – Exactly at a minute past 8pm it touched down amid uncertainty among some members of the Kenyan press that it was the one, Air Force One.
The uncertainty, understandable given the lateness of the hour, soon gave way to awe when the full majesty of Air Force One came into view.
Once the red carpet and steps he’d come down were in place, the door opened to what could only have been a Secret Service Agent who on seeing everything was in place, moved aside to make way for Kenya’s much anticipated guest, the President of the United States, Barack Obama; the very first to set foot on Kenyan soil.
But it wasn’t the first visit for the man who bears the title.
Something obvious for all to see when on disembarking, President Obama embraced his half-sister Auma.
The sister who put a roof on his head when he first got off a plane in Kenya.
The sister who took him for lunch at the Norfolk and later threw a Sh200 note, not an insignificant amount of money at the time, at a waiter who put the needs of the white patrons ahead of theirs.
The sister who later confessed to him that it was foolish to throw away money they needed.
Auma, the sister who helped fill in the blanks of the father he knew so little.
The sister who later accompanied him to their ancestral home where the father he barely knew was laid to rest and where he made peace with his mixed heritage, heralding a new beginning.
A beginning that would see him become the first African American to editorially oversee the prestigious Harvard Law Review then move on to become the only African American, at the time, to be sitting in the US Senate.
An accomplishment that earned him a hero’s welcome on his return to Kenya in 2006. But off course nothing could compare to becoming the first African American to become Commander-in-Chief of what is widely viewed as the most powerful democracy in the world and by extension, being the most powerful man in the world.
This time there was no waiting for service, the Secret Service waited on him, the man who defied centuries of racial discrimination and a confused childhood to come out on top.
But his homecoming on Friday, wasn’t just triumphant for him, it was a triumph for Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta; a man who was perceived as shunned by the West on account of the International Criminal Court charges he faced.
The charges dropped, it is under his watch that the first US President set foot on Kenyan soil, a man he last met on Kenyan soil when he was opposition leader.
A man in honour of whom he walked to the tarmac to welcome back to the land of his father’s birth before watching him get into, ‘the Beast’, Auma in tow, a new dawn in wait.