By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer
President Barack Obama on Friday made his first official trip to his father’s homeland: Kenya.
Despite a security breach and other concerns, Obama reunited with his 96-year-old grandmother Sarah Obama and his sister Auma Obama in Nairobi. This is the first public–and long sought after–visit with his African relatives since his ascendancy to the White House.
“It was a wonderful time,” Obama said after spending time with his relatives this weekend. He said he will have “more freedom to reconnect” when he’s no longer president.
Proud to be the first American President to visit Kenya. Happy to see family, and to talk with young Kenyans about the future.
— President Obama (@POTUS) July 24, 2015
His homecoming in Nairobi, Kenya also included the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi. His three-day visit to Kenya will address business and investment and the region’s security threats.
At the summit, he urged equal rights for gays and lesbians in Africa and more opportunities for women and girls.
“When a government gets in the habit of treating people differently, those habits can spread,” Obama said during a joint news conference Saturday with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
However, his host Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta disagreed and said gay rights was a “non-issue.”
Gay rights are “not really an issue on the foremost mind of Kenyans. And that is a fact,” he said.
To aid Kenya’s economic trajectory, Obama announced more than $1 billion new commitments from the U.S. government, as well as American banks, foundations and philanthropists. Half of the money, White House officials said, will go to support women and young people, who Obama says face bigger obstacles when trying to start businesses in a growing economy. Africa, Obama said, is one of the fastest growing regions in the world.
He also visited Memorial Park Saturday for a wreath laying ceremony in honor of the victims of the deadly 1998 bombing at the U.S. Embassy.
While in Kenya, Obama is also scheduled to meet civil society groups to discuss human rights and civil liberties.
Obama first visited Kenya three decades ago and then in 2006 as a senator in Chicago.