In his first visit to his father’s country since he became president, Barack Obama made his rounds with extended family, addressed economic development and announced more than $1 billion in investments to promote entrepreneurship at Nairobi’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit.
He kicked off the two-day visit with the latter, making a point to announce that half of the $1 billion from government and private companies would benefit both young children and women entrepreneurs.
“If half of your team is not playing, you’ve got a problem,” he said. “This continent needs to be a future hub of global growth and not just African growth. Kenya is leading the way. Go out there and start something. We’re excited about it — we are expecting great things out of you,” Obama added.
The visit is not only historical for President Obama; the move is an important one that officially forges a relationship between America and the African nation.
“We have waited for Obama to visit the country since he became president — we want to thank God that he has finally arrived,” said Grace Wangeci, a vegetable seller in Nairobi told USA Today. “We thank him for fulfilling his promise to the country before he leaves the presidency.”
It’s also a special visit for the president, who remarked that the long-awaited journey was “personal” for him. Upon arriving to Kenya, Obama was greeted by his half-sister, Auma Obama, at Jomo Kenyatta Airport.
The president, who was also greeted by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, met with other top officials during the reunion, dined with his extended family — including a step-grandmother — and celebrated with the locals.
“I am proud to be the first U.S. president to visit Kenya,” he said. “Obviously, it is personal for me. It’s the reason why my name is Barack Hussein Obama. My father came from these parts, I have family and relatives here.”
During his trip, Obama is also expected to discuss human rights with civil society groups — this despite a warning from Kenyan leaders who have threatened to disrupt the president’s visit if he discusses gay marriage.
“We want to warn Obama to steer clear of any comments on same sex marriages during his visit,” Bishop Mark Kariuki in Nairobi told USA Today. “Any attempts will lead to a call for mass demonstrations across the country and disrupt his meeting.”
Other topics the president plans to tackle include the regions security threats.