Welcome Home, President Obama [opinion]

Dear President Obama,

Karibu Nairobi and plealrm;se feel at home. Like many other Kenyans, I have waited for this moment for the last six years and I am glad you are here today. It gives us great pleasure to host you, not only as our brother and son, but also as a sitting US President and the most powerful man in the world.

The relationship between Kenya and the US is deep-rooted, and we feel even more attached to America with you as President. We see you as one of our own leading the world’s superpower, and that is why we have really looked forward to your visit.

Before I tell you some of the things that you can do for Kenya in your last year as President, let me tell you something about Kenya. Allow me to tell you some of the things that you should do while here for your short stay.

Kenya is a blessed country. This is something that even you have acknowledged in your previous utterances. It is a land full of opportunities, and a people full of enthusiastic energy and will to prosper.

Before you leave for the US, please ensure you indulge in some of our best Kenyan cuisines. Ask for some nyama choma, ugali and kachumbari – and don’t forget to try out our fish.

Our land is beautiful and I hope you get the opportunity to see our great wildlife. Kenya leads in tourism and I am sure you can squeeze in a game drive to your schedule. Don’t forget to get yourself some souvenirs of handmade crafts by the ever industrious Kenyans.

Kenya has grown economically and I am sure your drive from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport was different from the last one, nine years ago. We have a modern airport that was not there then, and our roads have also improved greatly. Tomorrow, you will experience the Thika Superhighway on your way to Kasarani and see there is real progress.

It is also important that I tell you our beloved country is facing its fair share of challenges just like any other developing country in the world. Our problems are not unique, but we have tried our level best to handle them the best way we know how.

We have a better constitution enacted five years ago and our democracy ideals have improved. We have also put in place major institutional reforms that are helping us strengthen key institutions. Devolution is helping us distribute the wealth of our expanded economy better.

But insecurity and unbalanced trade with our international partners, like the US, are a major threat to this growth. Insecurity, which is compounded by the growing threat of terrorism, continues to threaten our peace and stability.

In our quest to have a more stable region, we have exposed ourselves to the threat of extremism. We have lost our brothers and sisters to the evil hand of the al Shabaab who have also taken our youth as recruits.

This is one of the areas that I am hoping that your administration can focus on in your last year in office. We are in need of greater assistance from all our international partners in this war against terror.

Kenya and the US must work together more to help the region deal with the al Shabaab menace. The US must share its intelligence with Kenya more in order to deal with this issue.

Today, you will interact with some of the best and emerging entrepreneurs that Kenya has to offer. Their greatest dream is to succeed, create wealth, create employment and create a better world. Their aspiration is to have the world open up to their ideas, goods and services.

Mr president, this is something I am sure that our President Uhuru Kenyatta will tell you when you sit down later today. Kenya is in need of markets and America is one potential market that you must help to open up.

The balance of trade has been biased towards the US and we are hoping that you can help us reverse this. We have goods that Americans need. We have raw materials that America needs and we have talent that America needs. Help us open up the American markets for our industries.

Tourism is one of our greatest potential and we have seen a decline in the number of American tourists visiting Kenya. Your visit to the country and our parks can help restore this market for us, and I hope you take up the opportunity.

Trade and tourism can greatly help Kenya, and direct flights between the US and our cities of Nairobi and Mombasa are more than welcome.

Mr President, we are all looking forward to not only improved relations between our two great countries, but mutual benefits from your visit to Nairobi.

Karibu Kenya, ndugu Barack Obama.

The writer is a political and communications consultant.