If we can fix Kenya for Obama, we can do the same for Kenyans


I was one of those Kenyans who swore I was not going to get excited when US President Barack Obama flew into the country.

I mean, he isn’t my President. It isn’t like I was going to meet him or shake his hand.

Getting excited over Obama coming was about as fruitful as having an opinion on Greece’s debt when my own country is wallowing in so much of its own; interesting to be informed about, but useless in the long run.

On top of that, I was highly incensed that the Pope and the President of the Free World were getting preferential grass treatment in my country, yet I’m the one who has to live here!

The grass still isn’t green, and I wonder how much of it Obama even saw.

I am pleased that the highways were cleaned, though as usual, Kenyans are quick to get into shape when it isn’t just Kenyans looking at us.

Just like in high school, when a State official was visiting and all of a sudden the roads were being swept excessively and we, for once, didn’t have to do the gardening.

Regardless, I spent Thursday night and Friday morning in a state of anticipation. I casually took a drive around Nairobi to see what was happening (all the roads were free and fair, like elections are supposed to be).

No one was on the roads. No one was working. In fact, I don’t think the road closings would have made much of a difference, since no one was going anywhere on Friday.

I somehow found myself arbitrarily standing at the Nyayo Stadium roundabout, under the pretence of checking out the rates at the gym there.

That wasn’t why I was there.

There is something electrifying about a united Kenya. The Kenyans on the side of the road, holding American flags but still very much Kenyan, were pulsating with excitement.


The crowds started to form at around 2 pm and grew as time progressed. By nightfall, they were a singing, chanting, patient mass. It felt like a football game, one of those hyped el classico matches that drive men crazy.

It was very exciting to watch Kenyans join in something bigger than ourselves, than tribe or politics – you know, the way we get so impassioned during athletics competitions, or when Lupita wins an Oscar.