Washington DC, Tuesday
Barack Obama's inauguration today as president of the United States marks “a moment of great pride for Kenya”, Foreign Minister Moses Wetang'ula told the Nation at a gala dinner in Washington on Monday night.
“A special relationship will certainly be there” for the United States and Kenya due to President Obama's heritage, the minister added.
At the same time, Mr Wetang'ula acknowleded that the new US chief executive “has more priorities than just us.” The minister cited the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the global economic crisis.
Mr Wetang'ula said he hopes to meet soon with new US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He will be holding talks in Washington over the next few days with other State Department officials on hot spots such as Sudan, Somalia and Congo.
President Obama has “a standing invitation” to visit Kenya, Mr Wetang'ula added. He said there has as yet been no official reply to a formal invitation extended earlier by President Mwai Kibaki.
Monday night's black-tie event, sponsored by the International Conservation Caucus Foundation, was also attended by Kenya's US Amabassador, Peter Ogego.
Minister Wetang'ula declined to comment when asked whether Mr Ogego would continue to represent Nairobi in Washington as the Obama era gets underway.
The Kenya Boys Choir entertained guests in colourful fashion at the Monday dinner and dance.
The choir, under the direction of founder Joseph Muyale Inzai, sang a Swahili hero's welcome song in honour of Mr Obama. The 26 boys,clad in Masaai robes, also gave a well-received rendition of the US national anthem (The Star-Spangled Banner) as a Marine Corps colour guard stood at attention.
The choir is scheduled to perform again later on Tuesday at a reception hosted by the Kenya embassy in downtown Washington and tonight at an all-Africa inaugural ball that the embassy is co-sponsoring.