NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 16 – Former US President Barack Obama first visited Kogelo, his ancestral home, when he was 27-year-old.
And some 29 years later, the memories of his maiden trip remain vivid and heart-warming to the man who came to know about his roots.
On Monday, Obama took time to reminiscence about the events of that day, 29 years ago, with invited guests at Sauti Kuu, moments before he launched the foundation.
When he landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, he was received by his half-sister Auma Obama.
And the long journey began.
“I had worked as a community organizer for four years. I had come to know Auma and fell in love with her, but we had not grown up together. I was determined, to better understand the life of my father and that of his people,” Obama revealed.
“We talked all day and all night and I would wander through the city and finally it was time to come to home square that’s what we used to call it.”
Their journey to Kisumu was on the train.
“So we took a train and the train went overnight, and the train went very slowly – this was not a bullet train,” he said amid laughter from the audience.
Upon arrival in Kisumu, they boarded a bus and like it was the case with the train, he said, “This was not a fast bus.”
“…there was some chicken on my lap and some sweet potatoes on my side.”
They were not home yet.
They boarded a matatu which he said, “was more crowded than the bus.”
Eventually, they got to “Mama Sarah’s house (his grandmother) although it wasn’t as fancy as it is now.”
He was hungry but had some small task to do before he could eat anything.
“I had to catch a chicken to eat…” the ex-US President he said.
And looking behind to what his sister has accomplished, Obama said, “What I think about is that first night in the yard, going to sleep without running water and the fact she knew where she came from, her story, it is out of that spirit this wonderful facility we see today is built on.”
Obama arrived in Kogelo on Monday morning where he held a series of activities.
He also visited his grandmother at her homestead, a few kilometres from the Sauti Kuu Foundation.
The former US President arrived in the country after three years, since his last visit.
Then, it was a state visit since he was a serving US President.
On Sunday, he was received by his sister Auma, CS Foreign Affairs Monica Juma and US Ambassador Bob Godec.
He then proceeded to State House where he held a meeting with President Kenyatta.
Later, Obama met former Prime Minister Raila Odinga in a city hotel, where they also held discussions on a wide range of issues.
He is expected to depart for South Africa later in the day where he will give a keynote address at a Nelson Mandela event.