Obama: Visiting Kenya was the most memorable trip I took in my 20s
Retired US President Barack Obama has revealed that his visit to Kenya in his mid-20s was one his most memorable trips abroad.
Obama, who traces his roots to Kenya, made the revelation during the 19th World Travel and Tourism Global Summit in Seville, Spain.
Obama said he made the trip to Kenya because he was seeking to understand his heritage, his ancestral village, and meet members of his extended family.
He further said he visited the country to connect to the dad he never knew, after the elder Barack Obama Sr died of a car accident there in 1982.
“I wanted to understand him and understand the land he was from,” Obama explained to a crowd of travel and tourism professionals, business leaders and government officials at the World Travel & Tourism Council’s 2019 Global Summit in Seville, Spain.
During his speech, President Obama acknowledged the presence of Kenyan First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, who was representing the country at the summit.
He also says traveling helps to remind people of their heritage and the diversity of the human race.
“Travel also reminds us what we are, what we share and what we have in common,” says Obama.
He explained that just as one finds a child playing and laughing in Kenya, he would get the same experience from a child from a different background when he tours Hawaii.
“This is the commonality we are talking about,” Obama said.
He also noted that the young generation is more tolerable and adaptable to different cultures and environment without reservations.
“Young people are more tolerant and not afraid of the unfamiliar or change.”
In 2016 when he visited Kenya again, the retired president expressed joy at being back in the country and reminisced about the first time he visited Kenya and his father’s homeland in the late 1980s.
“I was 27 years old at the time working as a community organizer when I got the opportunity to know my sister Dr Auma Obama. I fell in love with her and even though I hadn’t grown up with her I was determined to better understand the life of my father and that of his people,” said Obama.
“I flew to Nairobi and Auma hosted me in her flat where we talked all night as I familiarized myself with the city and its surroundings.”
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta expressed her delight at having to once again meet the former US Head of State whom she hosted at State House, Nairobi twice in the past both as a sitting President and after his retirement.