Former US President Barack Hussein Obama’s charm continues to impress the globe a year after leaving the White House as America’s 44th President.
From Washington DC where he and former First Lady Michelle live with their daughters, to the far flung Nyang’oma Kogelo in Siaya, where his father was born, Barry, as his relatives call him, is among the most popular and active former US Presidents.
His fiery and inspiring speeches inspire masses across the globe. Americans still rush to greet him, beg for autographs and photo sessions, whenever he attends functions. His admirers are yet to come to terms that he is no-longer POTUS.
According to the Gallup poll, Obama enjoyed a 59 per cent approval rating between January 16th to 19th last year. Only 37 per cent disproved of his leadership.
The former US President enjoyed massive support from Americans, except in January 2016, when his approval rating slumped to 47 per cent, probably at the time he was making policy changes.
To the contrary, his successor Donald Trump started on wrong footing with only 37 per cent approval rating on the month he took over from Obama. He dismissed the rating by Gallup as fake news.
“While fake news lovers talk about my so called low approval rating, my rating was the same as Obama’s in 2009 which was 47 per cent,” Trump protested in a tweet.
The former US President has been busy meeting key personalities and addressing forums.
At Kogelo, thousands of miles away from Washington DC, his grandmother Mama Sarah is waiting for him to fulfill his promise of visiting Kenya after he exits White House.
Mama Sarah, now in her late 80s keenly monitors happenings in America on a TV mounted on her expansive living room. She wants to know what her grandson does on a daily basis.
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“Barack is fine. I am following him very keenly. He promised to visit me and other Kenyans once he is out of office. I knew he could not come here when he was still in power, but now he is free. I know he will come,” Mama Sarah told this writer.
The former President’s legacy at White House continues to make impact across the globe even as his successor, Trump stirs the world with his controversial leadership style.
While Obama - a Democrat - was, suave, diplomatic, principled and an inspiring orator, Trump - a Republican- has made enemies across the globe just within one year in office.
Recently, he stirred the hornets nest when he was quoted describing Arab and African nations as shitholes. Earlier, he brought Israel and Palestine to near war when he endorsed the disputed Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel. This angered the Palestine who have always wanted Israel to proclaim Tel Aviv as the capital
President Trump’s abrasive nature has served to keep Obama in the limelight as Americans compare their leadership style.
After handing over the oval office to Trump, and with Michelle always by his side, Obama has been meeting world leaders, monitoring the performance of his daughters Malia and Sasha in school, and holidaying.
The Washington Post recently reported that the Democratic Party members are keen on keeping him politically active because of his high ratings though he has chosen to keep a low profile.
“He prefers to keep a low profile. He wants to be more relaxed and to enjoy the company of his family and friends,” Washington Post recently quoted Obama’s senior advisor Valeri Jarret as saying.
The paper reported that the global interest in Obama and his desire to engage in civic life, places him in an unusual position for a former President.
Unlike his predecessor, George W Bush who left the office with low approval rates, Obama, left the White House a popular man.
After his exit from White House on January 20th last year, the former President and his wife Michelle have been globe trotting. Their vacation has taken them to nine countries.
Obama was recently pictured kite-surfing at the exclusive Necker Island, with billionaire Sir Richard Branson. Michelle and Malia were recently pictured at Miami beach dressed in swimsuits.
He is said to have delivered nine speeches since he left office in 2017. Obama speaks passionately about some of his pet subjects - The Obama Care which President Trump tried to abolish and children’s safety.
He tweeted: “I still care about making sure that the US and the world is a place where kids get a decent education. Where people who are willing to work hard are able to find a job that pays a living wage. That we’re conserving the amazing resources of our planet so that future generations can enjoy the beauty of this place. Like we did.”