Obama's Kenyan Homecoming
29 Aug 2006 - Kenya Tourist Board
Popular Democratic US Senator Barack Obama has made a return visit to Kenya, the homeland of his late father. During his stay, Obama found time to visit his father’s village, plant a tree with Kenyan Nobel Laureate Wangari Mathaai and described the experience of traveling in Kenya as “magical”…
Obama’s Kenyan father went from herding goats in a small village to studying economics in the USA, where he met the Senator’s mother. He died in 1982, but Obama's grandmother and about 30 other relatives still live in the village of Kogelo in Western Kenya.
American born and raised Obama, who wrote about his father and his African heritage in his 1995 memoir Dreams from My Father, grew up to receive degrees from Columbia and Harvard universities, and was elected to the US Senate in 2005.
He returned to Kenya as part of an African tour with his wife and two young daughters. He was based at Nairobi’s Serena hotel during his stay.
They made a weekend trip to visit his family in his father’s village in the western hills of Kenya, including his grandmother and uncles. In Nairobi, Obama met with Kenya’s Nobel Laureate and environmentalist Wangari Maathai. With the help of his daughters he and Maathai planted an African olive tree in Uhuru park.
Speaking of the parrelels between environmentalism and world peace, Maathai told Obama “It’s okay to start small… Imagine if everyone in the world planted a tree.”
During a later speech Obama compared his trip to Kenya with his last visit in 1987, when he and his sister had travelled around Kenya by train and public bus "It was a magical trip. I discovered the warmth and sense of community that the people of Kenya possess... I discovered the beauty of the land, a beauty that haunts you long after you've left. And most importantly for me, I discovered the story of my father's life and the story of his father before him.”