Kenya in lockdown as Obama heads 'home'
Published 25/07/2015 | 02:30
Nairobi went into security lockdown yesterday as Barack Obama returned to his ancestral home of Kenya for his first visit since becoming US president.
As Air Force One touched down in the Kenyan capital, Mr Obama was met on the tarmac by President Uhuru Kenyatta and a local drumming band complete with grass skirts. Mr Obama waved to the ululating crowds assembled to welcome him "home" to his father's birthplace.
The scenes were a far cry from his first visit to his father's home in 1987, when his half-sister arrived late to meet him at the airport in a clapped-out Volkswagen Beetle, British Airways lost his luggage and an airport official cadged a cigarette before asking if he knew his relative living in Texas.
Obama will spend two days in Kenya, speaking at a summit aimed at spurring African entrepreneurship then making a public address in a sports stadium at which he is expected to grasp the nettle of issues including gay rights, press freedom and the tendency of African leaders to overstay their welcome in office.
He has promised to be "blunt" despite warnings from Kenyan leaders including William Ruto, the outspoken deputy president, who recently described homosexuals as "dirty".
Kenya is a vital ally of the West in the battle against the Somali Islamist group al Shabaab, and Obama is likely to focus talks in Nairobi on security cooperation.
He will also dine with Kenyatta, whose indictment by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity largely barred Obama from visiting sooner. Charges have been dropped.