NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 25 – It was an exciting moment for US President Barack Obama when he met his close and extended Kenyan family in Nairobi on Friday night.
His first meeting few hours after landing was a connection dinner with his family some of whom he said he was meeting or hearing about for the first time.
“We were catching up… there is a more immediate family that I have known well from my previous visits, there was some more extended family that I had not met before,” Obama said when he spoke at State House Nairobi on Saturday afternoon.
Obama appreciated that his sister Auma Obama did a great job in gathering them together for dinner.
From his remarks, Obama enjoys tight relations with Auma whom he said had spent a lot of time with.
In a wedding photo, Auma was Obama’s flower girl.
She is also seen in several photos during Obama’s visits to Kenya.
Tight indeed that they hugged warmly upon arrival at the airport on Friday and even drove together in Obama’s beast.
“My sister Auma, whom I am close to and stay in close contact with, I think helped to make sure that everybody was represented.”
Like many other African and Kenyan families, Obama said it is always not a walkover to know every family member and also deal with controversies that arise from big extended families.
“I think the people of Kenya will be familiar with the need to manage family politics sometimes, and these extended families. There are cousins, uncles and aunties that will show up that you didn’t know existed before but you are always happy to meet,” he recalled.
“And there were lengthy explanations and some cases of the connection. But it was a wonderful time,” he said
Though it would have been his pleasure to visit them in Siaya County especially in the humble village in Kogelo, the home of his father, Obama regretted that his position as the President of the United States constrained his personal engagements.
“Part of the challenge I have had during the course of my presence here, given the demands of the job and the bubble, I can’t come here and just go upcountry and visit for a week and meet everybody,” he explained.
“That’s partly I had explained and I was begging for forgiveness.”
But one of the things he would like to do is to help not only his relatives but also influence change that will improve lives of the larger community.
He was concerned with the levels of poverty that had caused suffering to the people and promised his interests in supporting the communities to improve their livelihoods, especially after presidency.
From his indications, it was obvious that he will be visiting Kenya again, once he leaves office as the president of the US.
“But once I am a private citizen, I will have more freedom to reconnect and to be involved and engaged. Some of these communities are very poor, I am more restricted ironically as the president of the US than I will be as a private citizen in terms of some of the some of the direct help,” he explained.
But even has he ended his speech and also generously answered all questions directed to him, one could feel his love for family, his concern for the poor people in different societies and more so, his aspiration to live with his close ties especially in Kenya, which he clearly holds close to his heart.
In fact, he said he always planned to visit Kenya but he had to be careful not to show bias because truly indeed, his family roots are in Kenya.