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January 21, 2019

Kogelo residents unhappy for missing Obama event

Former US president Barack Obama hugging a Sauti Kuu Youth on Monday
Former US president Barack Obama hugging a Sauti Kuu Youth on Monday

Kogelo residents are disappointed they did not get a chance to interact with former US President Barack Obama on Monday.

He visited the village to launch the Sauti Kuu Foundation, a youth empowerment charity started by his sister Auma.

The event was private and invitees were screened before being allowed entry. Obama was accorded the protocol of a former head of state. 

Yesterday, some residents said they should have been allowed to mingle with “our son”. They had brought him a bull as a gift but were turned away by police, one man said. 

They said Obama promised in 2015 he would return as a private citizen and engage with them. He did not honour it and it still remains a debt, the residents said.

Evans Odhiambo said the visit was no different from the 2015 one. 

“He should have at least waved to us if he could not address us from the top of his car,” he said.

“The organisers were so hostile, even though we were cheerful and ready to welcome our son home.”

Odhiambo said the “no-nonsense police” deployed in the village made even celebrating Obama’s presence seem like a crime.

“We had come with a bull to present to Obama as a gift. He would have decided to slaughter it or give it to Mama Sarah, but we were chased away,” he said.

Paul Ogutu blamed Auma for being too protective of Obama. He said no resident would ask for cash handouts from the former 

American leader. 

Ogutu said Obama is revered globally and they were only interested in interacting with him. “If we have to expect something, then it must be tangible development, not handouts,” he said.

Mercy Anyango said they had hoped to see Obama but the heavy security present spoilt their day.

In 2006 when he visited as a senator, Obama was in the village for a short time and only a few residents saw him, she said.

“Look at the time he spent in Kogelo yesterday. What was so difficult for security officers to allow us in to just say jambo?” Anyango said.

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