Former US President Barack Obama recounted tales of his childhood in Kenya to laughter in Kogela on Monday, as he opened his sister Auma Obama’s Sauti Kuu Foundation’s sports and education facility.
The new facility includes a football pitch and basketball court, which saw NBA vice president and managing director Amadou Gallo Fall, as well as Charlotte Hornets’ Bismack Biyombo and Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri in attendance.
Barack Obama recalled his family’s move to the United States when he was a teenager, and said he hoped the new centre will make life easier for young Kenyans.
Obama was speaking ahead of his trip to South Africa, where he will deliver the 16th Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture at the Wanderers Cricket Stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday at 2pm to mark what would’ve been Madiba’s 100th birthday.
Obama’s speech will be themed “Renewing the Mandela Legacy and Promoting Active Citizenship in a Changing World” in Johannesburg on Tuesday, hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation in partnership with the Motsepe Foundation and the Obama Foundation.
On Monday in Kenya, Obama said about the new sports and education facility: “When I think of what Auma has now accomplished in building this centre, what I think about is that first night in BR (Baton Rouge in the US) – and first night of going to sleep without running water or indoor plumbing.
“And the fact that because she knew where she came from, and how it connected to the young people in this community who maybe haven’t had as much opportunity as we had, it was out of that spirit the wonderful facility that we see today has been built.
“So, I tell you that story because I cannot be prouder of what my sister has accomplished.
“I think it makes all of us who are Obamas, or who claim to be Obamas, extraordinarily proud.
“Three years ago, I visited Kenya as the first sitting American President to come from Kenya!
“And, when I was President, it was a little bit harder to get up here because my plane didn’t fit the tarmac up here!
“But today I am really coming as a brother, as a citizen of the world, as someone who has a connection to Africa, to talk about the importance of what she’s doing. But also to create a larger context for what’s possible.
“I’ve had a chance to look around and it’s a remarkable space, and I’m also very happy to see that there is a basketball court!”
Amadou Gallo Fall said that assisting with the facility was part of the strategy to ensure that youngsters in Kenya can blossom going forward, and making basketball an accessible sport.
South African star Yvonne Chaka Chaka also performed at the event.