President Uhuru Kenyatta Sunday led a high level government delegation including Deputy President William Ruto to President Barack Obama’s public lecture at the Safaricom Arena, Kasarani.
President Kenyatta sat through the lecture together with Cabinet Secretaries and senior government officials.
In his speech, President Obama praised Kenya for its regional leadership and said that the country is headed for a bigger global role.
“Kenya’s future is filled with hope. You are poised for a bigger role in the world,” he said.
Obama said the US government is grateful for the role Kenya has played in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) that is stabilising the Horn of Africa country.
He said the American government will stand by Kenya in combating the threat posed by terrorists whose main objective is to turn Kenyans against each other.
President Obama said those behind the terror threats facing Kenya know they are weak and they look for divisions within the society to exploit.
The US has pledged to provide more funds for the war against terrorism and also increase training for Kenyan security forces.
“We are going to stand shoulder to shoulder with you as long as it takes,” he said.
President Obama said corruption will remain an impediment to the realization of the Kenyan dream if Kenyans don’t unite against the vice.
He applauded President Kenyatta’s anti-corruption campaign and called on all Kenyans to rally behind the call to tackle the vice. He said corruption is not unique to Kenya alone but it should not be tolerated anywhere.
It was the second time he had praised President Kenyatta for his stance against graft in as many days.
The need to empower women was also a major theme of President Obama’s lecture.
He called on Kenyan communities to abandon retrogressive cultural practices like FGM and early marriage and to ensure women get equal treatment as men.
He said communities that provide equal opportunities to women are always more peaceful and more prosperous.
President Obama cautioned Kenyans against politics based on tribalism because it will erode the gains Kenya has made.
“Politics based on tribe and ethnicity is politics that is bound to split a country,” he said.
The US leader, who ends his three-day visit this evening, called on Kenyans to promote democracy even though complaints are a constant trait of the system of government.
He applauded the democratic space and freedom of the press that exists in Kenya.
Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and several other opposition leaders were among an audience that filled the 5,000 capacity arena for the lecture.