City residents in eager wait to welcome President Obama

Obama mania hit Nairobi as the city prepared to welcome the most powerful man in the world.

Most of the city residents were eager to display their joy and love for US President Obama who jetted into the country on Friday evening.

In Eastlands, business was not adversely interrupted as people went on with their activities as usual although a good number chose to celebrate President Obama’s coming by acquiring miniature flags and placing them with their wares and on top of matatus.

Some pressed on unperturbed.

Matatus plying the estates were branded with all sorts of Obama artwork while others flew small USA flags on top.

And most shops and stalls along Juja Road displayed US flags. Some had Kenyan flags too.

In Mathare Slums, Evans Matwete, 36, placed a small US flag atop a bunch of bananas to show his love for the US President.

“I have put this flag here because of the respect President Obama has shown us by deciding to come to Kenya. We are not taking this for granted. He is one of us and there is not much I could have done but use this flag to show my support,” said Mr Mwatete.

Another vendor, Mr Peter Wachira, was busy selling the flags along Juja Road and by noon he said he had sold about 100 at a cost of Sh100 each.

For Mr Matwete, a father of three from Kisii County, Mr Obama’s visit spelt a renewed cooperation between Kenya and the US.

“I want Presidents Obama and Kenyatta to look into how to improve business between the two countries. The soapstone trade in Kisii has not been well exploited and I expect our President to ask Obama to help open the US market for our sculptors,” he said.

President Obama is visiting Kenya for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit although he will use the occasion to hold bilateral talks with President Kenyatta. He will also meet members of his extended family, selected leaders and Kenyatta University students on Sunday.

ENTHUSIASTIC

Meanwhile, Kibera slum dwellers remained enthusiastic about the coming of Mr Obama to his father’s homeland.

Those interviewed by Saturday Nation could not hide their joy even as they complained that it was unfortunate that they might not have an opportunity to see him at close range because of his official capacity as the president of a superpower.

“It’s unfortunate that most of us have no choice but to watch the proceedings from our sitting rooms. I wish he could have addressed Kenyans from an open ground where all of us can be allowed in after of course a thorough screening,” said Mr Geoffrey Oketch, a businessman in Kibra.

Business went on as usual except for a few shops that were closed following uncertainties about how locals would receive the news that Mr Obama had landed.

“Some traders opted to close shop in fear that hooligans might take advantage and loot their property. They can easily leave us counting losses,” said a trader, Ms Mary Waithera.