16 July 2018

Kenyatta's Two Gifts for Obama in State House Meeting

Photo: Daily Nation
President Uhuru Kenyatta with the 44th US President Barack Obama when he paid him a courtesy call at State House, Nairobi on July 15, 2018. On the left is Mr Obama’s half sister Dr Auma Obama.

Former US President Barack Obama on Sunday held separate talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM party leader Raila Odinga in Nairobi.

The talks centred on youth empowerment and the Building of Bridges initiative set up by the two leaders on March 9.

Immediately after landing at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Mr Obama's motorcade headed straight to State House to a meeting with President Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and other senior government officials.

President Kenyatta sought to assure the former President of the support of all African leaders in scaling up youth programmes under the Obama Foundation.

The two leaders agreed that the youth in Africa could become the continent's most valuable asset if their energy and creativity are effectively harnessed, said a State House statement.

President Kenyatta congratulated Obama on setting up the Obama Foundation, which seeks to empower the youth to become agents of change for Africa.

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KENYAN YOUTH

President Kenyatta gifted the former US President with two books : Aspirations of a generation: Youth of Kenya and Kenya at 50, which detail success stories of the Kenyan youth for the last 50 years.

The former US President later held a one-hour meeting with Mr Odinga at the Villa Rosa Kempinksi hotel.

A statement sent to newsrooms said the talks were on the Building Bridges Initiative, youth empowerment, education and Kenya's efforts to bring peace to South Sudan.

The Building Bridges initiative was put in place by President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga when the two met at Harambee House on March 9 and agreed to work towards national healing after last year's divisive General Election.

The leaders told a press conference that they had set aside their differences and agreed to work on reforms to ensure prosperity, fairness and dignity for all Kenyans.

They said the effort will be championed by a 14-member secretariat headed by Ambassador Martin Kimani and lawyer Paul Mwangi.

BUILDING BRIDGES

"Mr Obama expressed full support for the Building Bridges Initiative and the war on corruption. The former US President called for greater induction of the youth into the initiative as a way of ensuring its deepening into the future," read the statement.

Mr Obama also pledged to put in place programmes to empower Kenya's youth through his foundation and expressed full support for the country's efforts to bring peace to South Sudan.

Mr Odinga's motorcade was seen leaving Kempinsiki at 4:50pm. Journalists were not allowed into the hotel which was heavily guarded by an elite squad from the General Service Unit.

"This is a private meeting and you are advised to leave this place for security reasons," shouted one of the security officers to journalists who camped near the hotel as a band of youths dressed in black T-shirts and caps were ushered into the hotel.

SPORTS CENTRE

Mr Obama is in Kenya for a two-day visit and is on Monday set to inaugurate the Sauti Kuu Foundation's project, which comprises a Sports Centre and a Resource and Vocational Training Institute run by his half-sister Dr Auma Obama, who was with him on Sunday.

After inaugurating the Sauti Kuu Foundation and visiting his Ancestral home in Alego Nyang'oma of Siaya County, Mr Obama will head to South Africa, where he is expected to deliver the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in Johannesburg.

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