Obama’s trip to Kenya: 12 things

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Barack ObamaImage source, Getty Images

The US President Barack Obama has spent last few days speaking to Kenyans. Here are 12 things he has revealed.

1) On his first trip to Kenya the airline lost his bag

"The first time I came to Kenya, things were a little different. When I arrived at Kenyatta Airport, the airline lost my bags. That doesn't happen on Air Force One. They always have my luggage on Air Force One.

"Auma [his half-sister] picked me up in an old Volkswagen Beetle, and think the entire stay I was here it broke down four or five times."

2) He keeps discovering more members of his family

"There's more immediate family that I had known well from previous visits... In these extended families, there are cousins and uncles and aunties that show up that you didn't know existed, but you're always happy to meet."

3) His grandfather was a cook for the British army

"I found the passbook he had had to carry as a domestic servant. It listed his age and his height, his tribe, listed the number of teeth he had missing. And he was referred to as a 'boy', even though he was a grown man, in that passbook.

"And he was in the King's African Rifles during the Second World War, and was taken to the far reaches of the British Empire - all the way to Burma. And back home after the war, he was eventually detained for a time because he was linked to a group that opposed British rule...

"A young, ambitious Kenyan today should not have to do what my grandfather did, and serve a foreign master."

4) He gave health tips to Kenya's president

"We see the legacy of Kip Keino every time a Kenyan wins one of our marathons. And maybe the first lady of Kenya is going to win one soon. I told the president he has to start running with his wife. We want him to stay fit."

5) He's slow at texting but thinks mobiles are the future

"Through these technological platforms, what might have previously required huge investments of capital, and as a consequence, big barriers to entry, now you can get a start-up moving, and if it's the right idea, it can travel with the speed of how fast you can text.

"I can't text very fast...

"Every day around the world, millions of people send and save money with [the Kenyan mobile money transfer service] M-Pesa... From Zimbabwe to Bangladesh, citizens work to keep elections safe, using the crowd-sourcing platform Ushahidi - and that's a great idea that started right here in Kenya."

6) He was corrected on poaching figures

He told a room of civil society leaders. "20,000 elephants have been lost in recent years".

This was then corrected by Paula Kahumbu from WildlifeDirect who told him that 30,000 elephants are being killed every year in Africa. "That's one every 15 minutes", she added.

7) His Power Africa project, launched in 2013, has not generated any electricity yet

"I noted that there was an article in a US publication suggesting, well, there's no electricity being generated from this yet. The next time somebody is interested in how electricity gets generated, go back home and find out how long it takes to build a power plant.

"I mean, sometimes these are long-term projects, but we have billions of dollars of transactions already locked in, and billions more in the pipeline."

8) He said corruption costs thousands of jobs

"Across the country, one study shows corruption costs Kenyans 250,000 jobs every year - because every shilling that's paid as a bribe could be put into the pocket of somebody who's actually doing an honest day's work."

"My hometown of Chicago was infamous for Al Capone and the mob and organised crime corrupting law enforcement. But what happened was that over time people got fed up, and leaders stood up and they said, we're not going to play that game anymore."

9) He said women were "powerhouse entrepreneurs"

"Any nation that fails to educate its girls or employ its women and allowing them to maximize their potential is doomed to fall behind in a global economy.

"You know, we're in a sports centre. Imagine if you have a team and you don't let half of the team play. That's stupid. That makes no sense. And the evidence shows that communities that give their daughters the same opportunities as their sons, they are more peaceful, they are more prosperous, they develop faster, they are more likely to succeed."

10) He sees a lottery of birth in Kenya

"A young child in Nyanza Province is four times more likely to die than a child in Central Province - even though they are equal in dignity and the eyes of God. That's a gap that has to be closed.

"A girl in Rift Valley is far less likely to attend secondary school than a girl in Nairobi. That's a gap that has to be closed."

"If somebody is a law-abiding citizen who is going about their business, and working in a job, an obeying the traffic signs - and doing all the other things that good citizens are supposed to do, and not harming anybody - the idea that they are going to be treated differently or abused because of who they love is wrong. Full stop."

12) He thinks Kenya is "on the move"

"When I came here as a US senator, I pointed out that South Korea's economy was the same as Kenya's when I was born, and then was 40 times larger than Kenya's. Think about that. It started at the same place - South Korea had gone here, and Kenya was here. But today, that gap has been cut in half just in the last decade. Which means Kenya is making progress."

For more on Obama in Africa:

Image source, Getty Images

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