Barack Obama
US President Barack Obama takes the stage to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, February 5, 2015.Reuters

Kenya seems to be in frenzied mood as it awaits US President Barack Obama's first official visit to the African nation – also his father's homeland – on Friday, with locals reportedly selling Obama merchandise like hot cakes and Kenyan media devoting singular coverage to the event. 

The prime purpose of Obama's visit to Kenya is the Global Entrepreneurship Summit  [LIVE LINK below] in Nairobi on Saturday, and he is reportedly not even scheduled to visit the hometown of his father in Siaya County. 

But the nation has reportedly been gripped by 'Obama-mania', and locals are selling merchandise such as T-shirts and caps with taglines that read, "Kenya... It is here that my story began" and "Baba asewuok abiro dala" (Father, I have left US and I am coming home), according to Kenya's Daily Nation.

Obama's Agenda in Kenya 

Obama will become the first sitting US president to visit Kenya and his visit is being seen as an important step in lifting relations between the two nations in the face of terror, especially at a time when Kenya is at a grave threat from al-Shabaab militants. 

Terror and security will be among the top items on the agenda when Obama meets Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta for bilateral talks.

"The fight against terror will be central," Kenyatta has said. 

'Encouraging entrepreneurship' is a major focus of Obama's Kenya trip as part of the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, the White House had said. 

The Kenyan president had also said that the Global Entrepreneurship Summit will help Kenya strike deals and secure investments in the energy, ICT and manufacturing sectors, according to Business Daily Africa

The US would also seek to make inroads into Kenya's defence sector, especially as China has a strong influence in Kenya's defence procurement, the BBC reported. 

Obama is also expected to discuss issues such as girls' education and violence during his visit. Reports claiming that Obama will push for gay rights while in Kenya have created a controversy, with activists and politicians threatening to protest. 

The US National Security Adviser Susan Rice may have hinted at a possibility of Obama mentioning the issue by stating that "this (gay rights) is not something we think is a topic we reserve for some parts of the world and not others," and adding Obama "will feel perfectly free to raise his concerns".

Obama will also pay his tributes to the victims of the 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya. 

The US President will deliver a speech to Kenyans on Sunday from the Safaricom Stadium Kasarani that will be broadcast across television and radio channels. 


To follow every detail of Obama's visit to Kenya, you can track leading Kenyan media outlets such as The Standard, Daily Nation and The Star

You can also watch LIVE as Obama visits his father's homeland, on Kenya's Capital TVKenya Television Network's LIVE TV channel, and the K24Live channel. 

Watch Obama at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit LIVE in the video below - 

Security Concerns:

There was a security lapse after Kenya's Civil Aviation Authority mistakenly made details about Obama's time of arrival and departure public, which the White House always keeps confidential. 

However, the White House has reportedly said that the breach will not affect Obama's schedule, who is flying sans US First Lady Michelle Obama. 

Kenya, which has often fallen to terror attacks, largely from the Somali Al Shabaab militants, has beefed up security, imposed several road closures, and will block its airspace for almost an hour on Friday when the US President arrives in the Air Force One. 

Similar arrangements will be put in place when Obama leaves Kenya for Ethiopia on Sunday. 

'Terror Hotbed' - Kenyans Protest Remarks on Social Media 

The US State Department reportedly said that the global entrepreneurship summit in Nairobi could be "a target for terrorists". 

Several American media have also underlined security concerns ahead of Obama's visit to Kenya, but Kenyans and the national media seem to have taken umbrage to CNN's reporting of the nation as a 'terror hotbed'. 

Kenyans took to social media to express their anger at CNN, with the hashtag #SomeoneTellCNN trending on top on Twitter in Kenya on Thursday.

Many also criticised a reported CNN interview in which a terror expert reportedly said that Kenya was the 'most dangerous country in the world'.  

Security Arrangements  

Kenya has beefed up security to the level of it being 'suffocating', according to a Nairobi-based security expert who shared his comments with AFP. 

While 'hundreds' of American security officials have themselves overseen security arrangements in Nairobi over the last few weeks, about one quarter of Kenya's national police force has been deployed in the capital, according to AFP. 

The US navy has kept its vessels on standby near  Kenya in the Indian Ocean, while the Kenya Defence Forces and the National Police Service will beef up security at the border with Somalia, according to The Standard

The newspaper also reported that a US spy plane has already taken to the air to ream communication to US intelligence officials. 

The Kenyan newspaper's homepage headline on Thursday fittingly read, 'Obama visit felt on land, sea and air.'

The US President's  $1.5 million-worth, bomb-proof and bullet-proof limousine 'The Beast' has already become a social media rage in Kenya, especially after several decoys of the vehicle were seen getting fuelled at a petrol bunk in Nairobi.

'Normal Life in Nairobi to be Affected'

Residents in Nairobi are likely to face disruptions in their routine on Friday, as authorities have warned that major roads will remain closed. 

Nairobi's police chief himself asked people to brace for disruption to 'normal life'. 

"The security arrangements put in place for the Summit will affect normal life in some parts of the city and we therefore call on the public to cooperate with the police to give the event and our visitors a conducive and homely environment," said Inspector General of police Joseph Boinnet, according to Kenya's The Standard. 

Schools in Nairobi have cancelled Friday classes, local media said. "Please note that there will be no school on Friday 24th July 2015 due to traffic logistics by the visit of the President of USA," said a note from schools in the Kenyan capital read ahead of Obama's visit. 

Obama Mania

The excitement for Obama''s visit in Kenya has turned into a business opportunity for several locals, who are selling merchandise with his photos and quotes by the dozen, according to the local media. 

Several artists have been selling paintings of Obama, while some business owners have even changed the name of their stores after the US President. 

"I decided to rename my hotel 'Obama Snacks' to attract more customers since everyone around here is talking about Obama," Collins Ochieng, a resident of Kisumu village, told Daily Nation. 

At a local hospital, the entrance has been now called 'Obama Gate' while the paediatric wing has also been named 'Obama Children's Hospital', the Kenyan newspaper reported. 

Disappointment in Hometown of Obama's Father

Obama is not scheduled to visit the K'Ogelo village in Kenya's Siaya county, where his father, Barack Hussein Obama Sr, was born. Obama reportedly last saw his father when he was 10 years old. 

Instead, he is likely to meet some of his relatives who will travel to Nairobi, according to reports. Even the 94-year-old Sarah Obama, Obama's step-grandmother, is expected to meet him. 

Residents in Obama's ancestral village expressed disappointment after the US embassy announced he will not be visiting the village, according to local media. 

Obama had himself said that he would have liked to visit Kenya as a 'private citizen' as it would be 'more meaningful'. 

"I will be honest with you, visiting Kenya as a private citizen is probably more meaningful to me than visiting as president, because I can actually get outside of the hotel room or a conference centre," Obama had said during a press conference earlier this month.