U.S. President Barack Obama flew into Kenya late on Friday for his first presidential visit to his father’s homeland, aiming to boost trade and security ties in east Africa.
He’s been welcomed by his Kenyan counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta, U.S. Ambassador to the Kenya, Robert Godec and Obama’s sister, Auma.
Obama’s Air Force One plane landed in the evening in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, where he will co-host a conference on boosting entrepreneurs on the African continent before travelling on to Ethiopia.
Earlier Obama said he would deliver a blunt message to African leaders about gay rights, discrimination, trade and investment, and security. He also said the trip to Kenya and then Ethiopia would show US commitment to fighting terror in east Africa.
Many Kenyans were expected to greet Obama in Nairobi, according to traffic controller supervisor, Agnes Konga.
“Kenyans like welcoming visitors, we are very good at that is why you see that they have come out in their large numbers and I believe that they are yet to come in bigger numbers than they are right now. As time go by they will be able to come in a bigger crowd to welcome His Excellency,” Konga said.
Obama, the first black U.S. president, is the son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas. He travelled to Kenya as a U.S. senator but has not gone since winning the White House.
Obama is expected to meet with family members while in Nairobi, but he will not be travelling to the village most closely associated with his family name.
The trip will focus otherwise on security and economic initiatives as the president shores up his legacy on the African continent.
Obama will also do some lobbying of lawmakers who are coming along for the visit. The president is seeking support from Congress for a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program.