It was an instant connection between US President Barack Obama and eight-year-old Joan Wamaitha, an orphan from South C estate in Nairobi, who was chosen to present him with a bouquet of flowers upon his arrival on Air Force One at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Friday evening.
President Obama spent an unusually longer time with the flower girl while embracing her with a warm long hug before they posed for a photo, the whole world watching.
Like a little lady, Wamaitha was dressed for the part. Her almost ankle-length frothy princess dress was matched with white accessories. With flowers in her hair, she stylishly warded the cold with satin gloves embellished with a bow and a velveteen cream cape that matched her pumps.
Her outfit stood in contrast to the bright bouquet that featured a burst of yellow and lilies and tulips with a few red blooms.
For her, she will go down in history books as the first person to greet a sitting US president on Kenyan soil.
But President Obama was not interested in the flowers, he was more interested in Wamaitha. They hugged and whispered — words, she was told, she would cherish for life.
Even President Uhuru Kenyatta stood there watching as the young girl savoured her moment of fame.
The moment could not go unnoticed by social media users. They poured accolades on the young girl whose photo was going viral.
Sunday Nation traced the young girl to South C’s Mama Ngina children’s home, where she resides together with her colleagues.
Last week, when a team of security officials visited the home, none imagined that the officers were scouting for a suitable candidate to present flowers to President Obama.
Although the home has had several children present flowers to visiting dignitaries, Wamaitha’s opportunity was unique.
On Friday afternoon, she was picked from the children’s home and boarded a government car. She had been trained for the occasion and, when the time came, she did not disappoint.
“I was surprised to see her on television. None of us expected that. She had come to school as usual on Thursday but she did not mention the big feat that was awaiting her,” class teacher Pauline Musyoka said.
Wamaitha is a standard one pupil at Mariakani Primary School in South B. Her teachers described her as polite, disciplined and brilliant.
“As a school, we are proud of her. She has made Mariakani known to the world. We are so proud of her,” Mariakani’s deputy teacher Selina Oduor said.
Polite and shy, Wamaitha is among the well performing children in her class of 35 pupils.
Although the children’s home turned down our request to interview the minor, her happiness was manifested in the home, where she was a darling to her colleagues and staff. “We cannot allow you to interview her due to her sensitive case. But once we get consent, we will allow you to do that,” Child Welfare Society of Kenya CEO Irene Mureithi said.