Kenya hits the headlines, thanks to Obama

By: GERRY LOUGHRAN

It’s a long time since Kenya has received such huge — and largely positive — exposure.

Newspapers, television and social media worldwide went into overdrive for the visit of President Barrack Obama to his ancestral country.

Typical was the headline in The Observer, a British Sunday newspaper: “Obama rediscovers the audacity of hope as jubilant Kenyans welcome him home.”

Others: “I’m proud to be the first Kenyan-American president,” “Obama says Africa is on the move,” “Obama has big plans for Africa,” “Welcome home, son.”

The difficulties were not ignored: “Obama takes Kenya to task over corruption,” “Kenya at crossroads, says Obama,” “Obama calls for gay rights in Africa,” “Obama rebuffed by Kenyatta,” “Obama’s tough message on gay rights in Kenya is given short shrift.”

Newspapers described how the city of Nairobi came to a standstill for the presidential visit, how Obama hosted a four-course dinner at a luxury hotel for some three dozen members of his extended family and how he promised to return after his term in the White House, indicating Kenya could be on his philanthropic agenda.

Commentators noted that like the university lecturer he once was, Obama spoke mostly without notes, appeared totally assured, knew his brief thoroughly and hammered home his belief that indigenous economic development and entrepreneurship must take precedence over dependence on foreign assistance, i.e. trade not aid.

Most of Obama’s views were rapturously received, such as his call for public trials for the corrupt and his emphasis on a new and inspiring leadership by the young.

But he struck a rock on gay rights in a country where nine out of ten people believe homosexuality to be unacceptable.

Obama compared homophobia to the racial discrimination he had discovered in the United States, arguing that abusing people because of who they loved was wrong.

One paper said, “Never before has such a powerful foreign leader challenged Africans so directly on their own soil.”

But President Kenyatta spoke up.

“There are some things we must admit we don’t share,” he said. “It is very difficult for us to impose on people that which they don’t accept.”

Identifying Africa’s principal challenges as lack of good governance and transparency, weak institutions, corruption, entrenched poverty and avoidable disease, the Observer argued that this was the optimum moment for Obama to act for the continent.

With 18 months left to go in his presidency, he enjoyed great freedom of action in international affairs, unlike at home where many of his domestic initiatives were derailed by Republican opposition.

So now was the time for Obama to deliver on his fine ideas, the newspaper said.

“The rare opportunity that now presents itself must not be missed.”

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If there were not enough reasons to stop smoking, scientists have discovered one more: It could affect the brain, leading to schizophrenia.

Researchers at King’s College, London, said nicotine altered levels of the brain chemical dopamine, which has been implicated in the psychosis.

Professor Michael Owen said the scientists had made “a pretty strong case” that smoking may increase the risk of schizophrenia.

The overall incidence of the condition is one in every 100 people; this could be increased to two per 100 by smoking.

Further trials are to take place.

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A young couple got a better bargain than they expected when they visited the Sue Ryder charity shop in Newcastle upon Tyne.

For a small sum, they bought a plastic file folder for their documents.

When they opened it back home, they found £800 (Sh127,500) tucked inside.

Manager Tracey Wood said, “The couple returned to the shop, quite bewildered by finding all that money. I couldn’t believe it, but I was so pleased we have such honest customers.”

Tracey examined her Gift Aid receipts and found the file folder had been donated by Jordanne Richardson, who explained how the money got there.

“Since my grandmother’s death we have been going through her possessions and getting her house in order.

This isn’t the first time we have found cash hidden around her house, but I never expected her to hide so much money in a box of plastic files.”

She said, “We are so grateful to the couple because the money will help pay for my grandfather’s care as he now lives in a home.”

Joanne has appealed to the couple to come forward so she can thank them personally and give them a small gift.

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Six men and a woman were hanging by a rope from a helicopter.

If one didn’t drop off, the rope would break and they would all die.

Finally the lone woman said, “I volunteer to go. Women have always made the greatest sacrifices, for their husbands, their children and the human race in general.” The men were so moved by this fine speech, they all started clapping.