Kenna Claude and Seth Onyango
Former US President Barack Obama will be accompanied by a high level delegation to his ancestral home in Kogelo for the launch of a training centre established by his sister Auma Obama.
People Daily has established that part of Obama’s entourage will be American celebrities and philanthropists who may include renowned media proprietor and talkshow queen Oprah Winfrey.
She will be among 400 foreign guests and 600 locals expected in Kogelo, the biggest gathering of distinguished personalities in the Alego, Siaya county village made famous by the American politician.
Obama, the son of a Kenyan father and American mother, is scheduled to arrive in Kenya on Sunday and travel to Kogelo for the inauguration of Sauti Kuu’s Sports, Resource and Vocational Training Centre the following day.
The centre features an international standard-size football pitch sponsored by the German Ministry of Development Cooperation.
It also boasts a basketball court funded by the Giants of Africa Foundation, a volleyball court, library and computer lab.
Representatives from the US’ National Basketball Association (NBA) are also expected to be present to explore ways of supporting youths with interest in basketball.
Kogelo could benefit from the philanthropists expected to invest millions in the project, designed to improve education and sports.
Sauti Kuu seeks to give disadvantaged children and youth an opportunity to unlock their potential.
It aims at creating a socio-economically stable environment that will help youth gain financial independence, while contributing to the development of their communities.
Auma said her foundation is committed to helping transform the Kogelo community by helping residents access opportunities.
“Poverty is no excuse. Opportunities are limited and you use what you have locally to get what you need. That is the essence of what Sauti Kuu is trying to do. We don’t need to be helped. We can help ourselves. That is what Sauti Kuu is trying to teach,” she told the press yesterday.
Already, an advance security team is in Kogelo ahead of the arrival of Obama and his entourage.
Entry has been restricted to only those who have been accredited.
During the visit, Obama is expected to separately hold talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Auma said her brother had been monitoring political developments in Kenya since August last year and was happy about the latest political developments.
At the height of last year’s election dispute, Obama was among leaders who pushed for dialogue between Uhuru and Raila.
Obama’s election as the first black President of the United States brought hope of transformation in Kogelo.
Expectations started rising immediately he was declared winner of the 2008 presidential election.
There were even hopes that there would be a flow of donations and Kogelo would directly benefit from the United States government.
But that was not to be. Except the land value rising dramatically by more than 80 per cent, the steady flow of tourists eager to see Obama’s roots and the tarmac and electricity projects effected by President Mwai Kibaki’s administration, nothing makes the village standout.
Even Senator Barack Obama Secondary School, which has about 500 students is not exceptional. It is a mixed day secondary with ordinary classrooms and with no laboratories.
Auma thinks the best way out of poverty for Kogelo is not donations and handouts from politicians but helping the youth acquire useful skills.
With the assistance of donors, a new technical college is being established to empower the youth with welding, masonry, carpentry, electrical and motor vehicle mechanics skills.