United States President Barack Obama’s long-awaited visit to his late father’s home land has sparked excitement across Kenya as millions prepared to welcome their son for the first time since becoming the most powerful man on earth.
But while Obama’s three-day visit to Kenya attracted enormous euphoria, it was accompanied by serious disruptions as the government blocked traffic to Nairobi including a temporary interruptions in flights to and from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
The city of Nairobi, received a massive facelift as city authorities paved roads and chased beggars off the streets.
The city authorities were however exposed as ill-prepared for the visit of arguably the world’s most popular politician when they were shown to plant grass three days before the visit, Kenya’s NTV reported.
Perhaps taking lessons from the summit’s theme, Kenya’s business community has wasted no time cashing in on the heavy dose of euphoria among the people by printing T-Shirts and pouring other memorabilia merchandise in markets and shopping malls to mark Obama’s visit.
Kenya’s hosting the summit has been hailed as a potential turning point for the African continent in its pursuit of prosperity.
One of Africa’s leading entrepreneurship promoters and investors, Tony Elumeru said: “This gathering of hundreds of entrepreneurs, investors, non-profits, and government officials, co-hosted by the governments of the United States and Kenya, will spotlight the growing importance of Africa as a centre of business innovation and entrepreneurship. Likewise, it will put a spotlight on the importance of Africa’s innovators to job creation and sustainable and equitable economic development.”
But Obama’s highly anticipated arrival in Kenya on Friday has dramatically altered the lifestyle of Nairobians as travel restrictions and movements of people were seriously interfered with in an effort to increase security of the American president.
The Kenyan government has banned all Matatus – public transport vans from accessing Nairobi form three days. As a result of the transport difficulties created, a number of employers offered three days leave to their employees.
Obama’s visit, as some media have reported, will force Kenyans to lose their sovereignty at least for a few hours as America’s security agencies take over the country’s security.
Obama’s visit has attracted a lot of attention within Africa but also back home, largely due to Kenya’s poor security lapses that have seen repeated attacks by the terrorist Al-Shabaab militia.
Kenyan media reported for example no plane will be allowed to take off or land at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport during the time Obama will be using the airport. Kenyan officials however received a beating for revealing bits of Obama’s travel itinerary because it amounts to a security breach.
Arising from the Al-Shabaab threats, Obama’s visit has attracted perhaps the highest deployment of American security apparatus Obama has ever travelled with including lots of security personnel, armoured vehicles and other security equipment with capacity to disable enemy artillery.