In July 2015, Barack Obama visited Kenya for the first time since he became president of the United States. His father, Barack Obama, Sr., was born in Nyang"oma Kogelo and returned to Kenya in 1964, after he graduated from Harvard. Obama, Sr. lived in Nairobi at the time of his death in 1982. Kenyans have seen President Obama as a long-lost son and treated him as such during his 2015 visit, including welcoming ceremonies and lines of people holding signs greeting him wherever he went.
While there, President Obama was at odds with President Uhuru Kenyatta over human rights, including issues such as same-sex marriage. Under Kenyan law, sexual activity between men is illegal. "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 during a joint press conference in Nairobi. President Kenyatta responded, "There are some things we must admit we don"t share, our culture, our society don"t accept. It is very difficult for us to be able to impose on people that which they themselves do not accept."
Despite the disagreements, President Obama kept the focus on his personal history with the country, having visited Kenya three times before he took office. During a speech at a business forum while there, he said, "I"m proud to be the first U.S. president to visit Kenya, and obviously, this is personal for me. There"s a reason why my name is Barack Hussein Obama. My father came from these parts and I have family and relatives here. And in my visits over the years, walking the streets of Nairobi, I"ve come to know the warmth and the spirit of the Kenyan people." President Obama also made an effort to repeatedly praise the country"s democratic progress and economic growth.
See also Encyclopedia: Kenya .
U.S. State Dept. Country Notes: Kenya