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How international media captured Barack Obama's grand visit

By Oscar Obonyo | July 26th 2015

The historic trip to Kenya by US President Barack Obama featured prominently in newspapers across the world, with most capturing the story as a “journey back home”.

The New York Times, for instance, suggested that President Barack Obama’s trip was more of a personal than a policy matter that touches on American interests.

In a story titled, “Obama Arrives in Kenya, on Personal and Official Journey,” Peter Baker and Marc Santora, wrote “President Obama arrived on Friday in Kenya, his father’s home country, for the start of a four-day swing through East Africa, combining a personal journey with a geopolitical mission.”

And terming Obama as a “local boy”, The Monitor, which is published in the neighbouring Uganda, proclaimed in its headline “Obama returns home”. Obama, reported the paper, “is the son of a Kenyan immigrant and an American mother, who takes his bow from the world’s most influential political office on earth in February 2016, after serving eight years in two terms.”

According to The Monitor, though, Obama’s visit to Kenya as US President was delayed “by complications in the country’s politics”.

In an article titled, US President Barack Obama Already In Kenya”, Tanzania Today, similarly reported that Obama had arrived “home” saying: “Barack Obama has arrived in Kenya on the first visit to his ancestral home as serving US president. During his two-day visit, Obama will hold talks with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and other top officials.”

And under the headline “Barack Obama returns to Kenya as President”, The Chicago Tribune, wrote that the President’s return “to his father’s homeland.. was a long sought visit by a country that considers him a local son.”

In the article, International Crisis Group Deputy Programme Director for Africa EJ Hogendoorn said: “I don’t think that Kenyans think of Obama as African-American. They think of him as Kenyan-American.”

But there were negative reports as well published by the world newspapers. United Kingdom’s The Guardian claimed Kenya was using the Obama visit to clean up its image. “Kenya is treating the visit as a chance to shine, akin to hosting an Olympics or football World Cup, and is well aware how catastrophic another terrorist attack would be for its image,” wrote David Smith in the article titled, “Barack Obama lands in Kenya amid huge security operation.”

The New York Times said the US leader “arrived deliberately low-key, even anticlimactic, reception, with none of the (usual) pomp".

Peter Baker and Marc Santora further wrote that Obama’s motorcade ride into the city “was eerily quiet, without the sort of throngs often lining the route when an American president visits a country in Africa or elsewhere for the first time”.

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