US President Barack Obama waves as he boards Air Force One prior to his departure from Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on July 26, 2015. Obama urged Kenya to renounce corruption and tribalism, delivering a rousing speech at the end of a landmark visit to the East African nation and birthplace of his father.
In SummaryUS President Barack Obama winds up his three-day visit to Kenya, his father’s homeland, with a promise to the people of East Africa
Nairobi. US President Barack Obama said yesterday that he would return to East Africa after he retires to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and visit Serengeti National Park.
Also high on his bucket list is a beach holiday in Lamu, Kenya.
“I know that there are places in this beautiful nation that I haven’t discovered, so I am gonna make sure when I get back, and it is not just Kenya, it is an ecosystem connected from Uganda to Tanzania,” he told Kenya’s Capital FM in an interview marking the end of his three-day Kenya visit.
“Climbing Kilimanjaro seems like something that should be on my list of things to do once I get out of here. The Secret Service generally doesn’t like me climbing mountains, but as a private citizen hopefully I can get away with something like that.”
The 5,895-metre (19,341-foot) peak in Tanzania is Africa’s highest mountain.
He said he loved the Serengeti and Masai Mara and national parks in Tanzania and Kenya, respectively, and had fond memories of a trip to Lamu island, on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast, that he made with his wife Michelle when they were engaged.
“Lamu is high on my list. Michelle and I went there when we were engaged. I remember taking those dhows out, fishing, and the captain of the boat cooking the fish right on the beach. It was remarkable,” he said.
Meanwhile, the US President took a swipe at a Kenyan opposition politician for double speak on various issues affecting Kenya.
Mr Obama criticised the leader, whom he did not name, saying he had been pressurising him to challenge the government, yet he had previously told the US to keep off Kenya.
“When I had a meeting with the opposition a few moments ago, one of the members whom I will not mention told me to press the government on certain issues then I told them you were in government, you were the one who was telling the US to keep off…” he said while meeting the civil society at Young African Leaders Initiative (Yali) regional centre at Kenyatta University. He said there were people who wanted the US to be involved when they were not in power but take a different position when they were in opposition.
“Everyone when they are not in power want the US Government to press the (Kenya) government in power on this or that issue, but I remember when you were in power you told us (the US Government) to mind its own business…”he said.
The US President met key opposition leaders after addressing Kenyans at the same venue.
He met ODM leader Raila Odinga and his co-principals Senator Moses Wetangula (Ford-Kenya), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper Democratic Movement) and Martha Karua of Narc Kenya.
The talks centred on the areas of governance, security and democracy.
Mr Musyoka said it was an important meeting.
Earlier, Mr Obama told Kenyans to make “tough choices” if they want to improve their lives for the better.
He recalled the progress Kenya has made over the years.
He, however, said the country has to embrace its own destiny so as to travel the long road of prosperity.
Of concern to him were the issues of corruption, tribalism, insecurity (violent extremism) and the marginalisation of certain communities, issues he argued were eating into the country’s progress.
“Kenya is at a crossroads, in a moment of pain but also a moment of great promise,” he told the audience gathered at the Safaricom Indoor Arena.
“You can’t be complacent and accept the world just as it is. You have to imagine how the world should be.”
Mr Obama, the first US president to visit Kenya, was speaking to Kenyans following a two-day visit in which he attended the Global Entrepreneurship Summit as well as holding bilateral talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Throughout his 40-minute speech, he referred to his Kenyan roots (his father was Kenyan), his past visits and how the country had changed for the better, including adopting a new Constitution.
But he was categorical that many things must still be done to remove the country from its current position.
“Politics that is based solely on tribalism is the politics that is doomed to tear the country apart,” he said.
“Kenya has come from far, but it was nearly torn apart by the 2008 violence,” he said, referring to the clashes that resulted of the disputed December 2007 elections.