Kenya to finally build facility to honour Obama

By Mark Oloo (Nairobi) – Barack Obama’s family has reached an agreement with the Kenyan government to construct a tourism centre in honour of the birthplace of the US president’s father.

The planned tourism and cultural facility will cost Sh100,000 million ($8 million), Kenya’s National Heritage Minister William Ntimama said, after holding talks with the family.

Mr Ntimama added a plot was identified and construction of the centre would continue in Nyangoma Kogelo, Western Kenya. The foundation stone has been laid.

Obama’s father, Barack Obama Senior, is buried in Kogelo, where the rest of the family, including the US president’s step-grandmother Sarah Obama, live to date.

On Friday, US ambassador to Kenya Michael Rannerberger visited the site and said America would offer financial support for the construction. He also said the US would mobilise tourists to visit the centre in high volumes.

“The fact that Obama has root here has significantly strengthened the relationship between the US and Kenya,” Mr Rannerberger told journalists last week.

Obama last visited his Kenyan relatives in 2006. In a recent interview in Washington, DC, the president said he planned to visit his father’s country again before his term in office expires.

The US president has been instrumental in Kenya’s quest for constitutional reforms by constantly ridiculing official corruption and institutional weaknesses in the East African country.