Obama’s Visit to Kenya — Father’s Homeland
Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper
President Obama took Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to task over the African country’s record on gay rights during his first visit to the country as president, while also promising increased action against East African terrorists.
During a joint press conference in Nairobi on July 25, Obama chided Kenyatta over Kenya’s laws, which punish sex between men with as many as 14 years in prison.
“When you start treating people differently not because of any harm they are doing to anybody, but because they are different, that’s the path whereby freedoms begin to erode,” Obama said, according to CNN. “And bad things happen.”
Despite many similarities between the U.S. and Kenya, Kenyatta said the countries differ in their acceptance of LGBT individuals.
“The fact of the matter is Kenya and the U.S. share so many values: common love for democracy, entrepreneurship, value for families—these are some things that we share,” Kenyatta said. “But there are some things that we must admit we don’t share. Our culture, our societies don’t accept.”
Meanwhile, Obama promised stronger support for counterterrorism operations in Kenya and Somalia, including funding and training for Kenyan security forces. Kenyatta said his country is a new participant in the war on terror, which he called “an existential fight for us,” according to The Washington Post.
On Friday, Obama was welcomed with a festive state dinner hosted in his honor. At the event, Obama was serenaded in English and Swahili by a popular Kenyan group, and enjoyed a performance by a Nairobi youth orchestra.
In a toast to Obama at the dinner, Kenyatta remarked on a program which decades earlier sought to send newly-independent Kenyans to study in America—a group which included Obama’s father.
“Riding on the wings of history,” Kenyatta described Obama as a president of historic consequence “for America, for Africa and most importantly for Kenya.”