Barack Obama' visit a gift to Africa, President Uhuru Kenyatta says

Sunday July 26 2015

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US President Barack Obama has given Africa hope that through personal initiative and hard work, one can take control of their destiny.

Speaking Saturday evening when he hosted a state banquet in honour of the visiting US leader, President Uhuru Kenyatta said Africa is no longer a continent that begs for aid but seeks support and empowerment to achieve economic prosperity.

“Many have said President Obama has not done much for Africa. I tend to disagree with that statement because enough is not about how much you put on the table that is not the issue,” said the President.

The President noted that Mr Obama's visit and initiatives will propel and transform Africa.

US President Barack Obama (second right), his

US President Barack Obama (second right), his sister Auma Obama, President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret join members of the Sauti Sol band in a dance during a banquet at the State House in Nairobi on July 26, 2015. PHOTO | JOHN NGIRACHU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

President Kenyatta said through his policies, Mr Obama has given Africa tools to transform not just the continent but the world.

“I don’t think there could be a bigger gift than that,” the President said.

President Kenyatta recalled the historical ties between Kenya and the United States saying the two countries cherished freedom, which they made great sacrifices for to secure it for posterity.

“Our paths have not been easy. We have not realised these values in full measure. But our record has been one of steady progress. Indeed, Kenya has been inspired by the immense accomplishments of the United States in its 239 years of independence,” said the President.

He noted that America has been a true friend having supported Kenya to achieve its desired aspirations.

US President Barack Obama (third right), his

US President Barack Obama (third right), his sister Auma Obama, President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret join members of the Sauti Sol band in a dance during a banquet at the State House in Nairobi on July 26, 2015. PHOTO | JOHN NGIRACHU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

He recalled efforts by Kenyan and American leaders in their quest to achieve their citizen’s political and economic freedom.

“In 1959, our national hero Tom Mboya shared a stage with Martin Luther King Jr. He said that Africans, and the Americans of the civil rights movement, were united in a common search for political freedom.

“He would join hands with Senator John F. Kennedy, American philanthropists and activists such as Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier, to bring hundreds of young Kenyans to America’s universities,” he said.

President Kenyatta said what pioneer leaders had in mind was an initiative aimed at preparing a group of educated and committed Kenyans who would complete the transition from colonial domination to self-government.

US President Barack Obama hugs a member of the

US President Barack Obama hugs a member of the Sauti Sol band during a State dinner hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta at the State House in Nairobi on July 25, 2015. PHOTO | JOHN NGIRACHU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“We can secure democracy; and we can bring our entrepreneurs and investors together for our common prosperity. I look forward to continuing our conversation in the coming weeks and months,” he said.

The President challenged Kenyans to learn that they can accomplish much more in terms of development if they avoided unnecessary differences amongst them.

Mr Obama said the approval of the extension of Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) by US congressmen was a demonstration of the American people desire to expand trade and investment opportunities besides deepening relations between Africa and America.

US President Barack Obama raises a toast during

US President Barack Obama raises a toast during a State dinner hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) at the State House in Nairobi on July 25, 2015. AFP PHOTO | SAUL LOEB

“We were able to get the AGOA Bill passed and those who know American politics, there too many things where Republicans and Democrats agree these days. But deepening our relations with Africa is something guided by partisan support and it is an indication how American people feel,” said the US leader.

He expressed his gratitude to President Kenyatta and the people of Kenya for the warm reception accorded to him and his delegation.

Others who attended the banquet were the Deputy President William Ruto, Cabinet secretaries, former President Mwai Kibaki, Cord leader Raila Odinga, Mama Sarah Obama, diplomats and other senior government officials.