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Nyanza counties scramble for US President Barack Obama

COUNTIES
By FRANK OTIENO & RUSHDIE OUDIA | July 23rd 2015

Three counties in Nyanza are caught up in an ‘ownership’ row for US President Barack Obama, just hours before his historic visit to the land of his father.

Although, the US has said the president will not be visiting “home” during his three-day visit, this has not stopped Siaya, Homa Bay and Migori counties from claiming associations with him.

And Homa Bay and Migori appear to have valid reasons in their bid to steal Siaya’s thunder. For your information, Siaya is the county that hosts the world famous village called K’Ogelo.

Should Obama decide to make a surprise decision and visit home, perhaps he should consider going to Obama. For it is from Obama village in Migori County that, according to Governor Okoth Obado, that his ancestors came from.

Speaking to The Standard on phone, Migori Governor said Obama village was in the county long before people came to know of Barack Obama.

“Obama village has been in this county even before anyone ever knew that there would come a leader called Barack Obama. I saw many businesses and roads being named Obama just after the US President became Illinois Senator. This village of Obama in Awendo sub-county is the main origin of the K’Ogelo clan,” said Obado.

Obado says there is a distortion of facts regarding where the Obama family traces its roots.

“I get disturbed when I see people misleading Kenyans and the world that the Obama family is entirely in Siaya County. That family traces its roots right in this village (Obama village). When we remain quiet, people should not think we do not know the history of this great leader,” said Mr Obado.

But before you conclude that Obama is the best place for Obama to visit, perhaps you should listen to Homa Bay County Governor Cyprian Awiti. He told The Standard in an interview that the Obama family first settled in Kanyadhiang’ village in Kendu Bay before moving to Alego Kogelo in Siaya.

Awiti further gave other reasons why President Obama should identify with Homa Bay. First, the late Tom Mboya, the man who helped Barack Obama senior (US president’s father) to a secure scholarship in the US, hailed from Homa Bay County. Just think about it, if Mboya did not give Obama senior a scholarship, would we have a President Obama today? The second reason that Awiti gave is that Obama Senior lived in Kanyadhiang’, Homa Bay, before moving to Siaya.

“In fact,” says Awiti, “Homa Bay is home of the Obama family. Even today, the family is still here and indeed, Barack Obama visited this place before he became a senator. I wish he would spare some time to even lay a wreath on the late Mboya’s mausoleum.”

Mama Sarah Obama in an interview with The Standard confirmed that, indeed, they have a family in Homa Bay County.

‘’When Barack visited in 1991, I took him to Kanyadhiang’ village in Kendu Bay, Homa Bay County, where our larger family is, and believe you me, there was no special bed for him and he did not mind sleeping on a mat and covered himself with an old bed sheet,” she said amid laughter.

But if there is a reigning champion in this Obama “game”, it must be Siaya. The county claims the strongest and closest relation with Obama, and this is evident from the popularity the county has gained since Obama was elected senator in 1996.

K’Ogelo’s popularity grew tenfold when Obama became the US president. The village’s association with the world’s most powerful man also came with good tidings. The village now boasts of electricity, better roads and security.

Obama’s father was born in 1936 in K’Ogelo, to Hussein Onyango Obama’s second wife Akumu. Hussein’s third wife, Sarah Onyango Obama, is the US president’s oldest living relative and hails from K’Ogelo. Kenyans know her as ‘Mama Sarah’.

Siaya Governor Cornel Rassanga well K’Ogelo’s place in history. He notes this is the place where Obama hailed from and advises others to stop laying claim to him.

“When Obama meets governors I will ensure I tell him he is a resident of my county, and therefore he must look at me with good eyes,” he said.

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