News / USA

Obama to Skip Kenya on Africa Tour

Obama to Skip Kenya on Africa Touri
June 21, 2013 10:30 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama begins his much-anticipated tour of Africa on June 27th, with one glaring omission: the president will not be visiting Kenya, the birthplace of his father. East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow reports a sticky political situation may be the reason.
Obama to Skip Kenya on Africa Tour
Gabe Joselow
U.S. President Barack Obama begins his much-anticipated tour of Africa on June 27 with one glaring omission: the president will not be visiting Kenya, the birthplace of his father. 

Obama's ancestral home is a tiny town called Kogelo in western Kenya. His name adorns schools and restaurants there and members of his family still live in the area.

And while many hoped he might visit the area on his tour of Africa, Obama will not be calling on Kogelo or any other place in Kenya. His only East African stop will be in neighboring Tanzania.

The president’s uncle, said the family will always welcome him home but has come to understand that the president has to represent American interests first.

“Many people thought that a lot of things will be coming around, which has not been the case. But I wouldn’t blame it on the president, it’s the American foreign policy, and we just have to accept that that’s the way it works,” stated Said Obama.

President Obama's trip to AfricaPresident Obama's trip to Africa
President Obama's trip to Africa
President Obama's trip to Africa
Obama last visited Kenya in 2006 when he was still a U.S. Senator. And while he is certainly under no obligation to visit the country again as a sitting president, his decision not to does raise questions about the strength of U.S.-Kenyan relations.

One challenge was the election in March of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is facing crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC).   The U.S. supports the ICC process, though it is not a signatory.

Adams Oloo, Political Science Chair at the University of Nairobi, said the U.S. president is likely trying to avoid a potentially embarrassing situation. “I think it will look a little bit crude if he were to step into Kenya, it would be like endorsing their leadership. And I think, rather than be viewed that way, he’d rather skip Kenya and go to Tanzania instead.”

U.S. officials cautioned Kenyan voters ahead of the election that “choices have consequences” - a veiled warning that electing ICC indictees could compromise relations.

Government spokesman, Muthui Kariuki, said, despite the warning, relations with the U.S. are still good.  And there are no hurt feelings about Obama’s itinerary. “This is not the first time an American president is coming to Africa and has not visited Kenya. We have no reason to worry and no, we are not disappointed," he said. "We continue with our business as usual.”

So for now, sleepy Kogelo will be spared the glitz and glamor of a presidential visit.
But it is still early in president Obama’s second term, and many here say “maybe next time.”

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
June 24, 2013 5:04 AM
It looks a wise choice for Obama to have skipped Kenya in this trip. Unnecessary impact on an awaiting election would be avoided.

by: Jacob
June 23, 2013 12:08 AM
And the tour to Zimbabwe ? mmmmm

by: Grace from: South Africa
June 21, 2013 12:37 PM
President Obama is under no obligation to visit Kenya. He is on an oficial visit, business of which have nothing to do with Kenya. I do not think there is any gain whatsover by his visit, it really is a blessing that he skips Kenya. The security detail that follow him everywhere is not worth the pain of hosting him. So thank you President Obama for saving Kenya the trouble
In Response

by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
June 24, 2013 3:14 PM
The reason for Obama not to visit Kenya is not to safe Kenyans the trouble and pain of hosting him. Obama does not want Americans to see him shaking hands with current Kenyan president, Kenyatta, whom the world accused him of "tribal war criminal".

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs