This past week was #Obamahomecoming all the way, and I, like many Kenyans, have my Obama story. I was out of the country all week before his arrival and wondered if that would mean my having to stay away longer. In the end, everything was handled very well.
My flight, due to arrive at the same time as Wuod Kogelo (Son of Kogelo), was delayed by an hour. Yes, only an hour. And I had 3 days’ notice that departure would be delayed by an hour, so I didn’t get to the airport and get disappointed.
Then, although the road that I use to get home was partially closed, I still arrived in decent time; in fact, it took a shorter while than usual.
On Saturday, I heard ‘Marine One’ thunder past, and teased my still sleeping family that they had missed The Beast on its way to Gigiri for the opening of the GE Summit. I was sorry to see many closed shops. It’s ironical that the Global Entrepreneurship Summit and Obama’s homecoming coincided with lost revenues for business people. That was my downside.
Then on Sunday I packed a small picnic and left the house at 6.30am with my, thankfully, well-connected husband, through whom I was invited, to attend the address at the Kasarani sports centre.
Obama’s story gets me. And to be in the 0.0125% that got invited, wow, I am still glowing.
I have to say, though, the greatest part of this story for me, was the way he managed to come across as POTUS and Wuod Kenya in the same visit.
It started with dinner with the family (and, of course, western sceptics thought ‘a family of 30?’) Duh, you don’t get it because you don’t get that he is Ja Kogelo. He said it himself – the first Kenyan American POTUS!
And then he repeated that bit about his name, and how when he first landed in Kenya, someone recognised it, and immediately gave him a sense of identity. He belonged. He was someone. Here.
His sister made the contrast between her battered old VW 30 years ago and The Beast today, 2015. Such a simple metaphor for how ‘today is not tomorrow’, and, yes, Obama said it; “your past is not your future”.
He talked about dreams, and how each one of us can create our own, “right now, right here”. Looking at him, can you doubt that? I believe that he has worked his butt off to get to live his dream.
And I don’t doubt that, along the way, he has recognised and appreciated the people who nurtured, inspired and supported him. He shows gratitude.
To any person reading this, especially if you are young, I say, just in case you missed it, Obama went through bad times, had episodes of self-doubt, ignored detractors, and sought and listened to good advice. He put in the hours. He faced his fears head on and didn’t dwell on what he didn’t have, or what was weird about him (imagine the teasing at school, funny name, big ears, no Daddy). He rolled up his sleeves and did something.
Mostly, though, would like you to take this away: he built strong foundations. He understood that in the end, it all comes out, and, for many years back then, worked to create content that would look good on his CV. That’s why he so confidently put in an application for POTUS, and got the job. Twice.
And, oh, he read his job description very carefully before he signed up.