Despite a disappointing announcement by the US Embassy that President Barack Obama would not visit his father’s K’Ogelo home in Siaya County, residents of the Nyanza region are bubbling with excitement.
In Kisumu, there is a celebratory mood, with business-minded youths making a killing through the sale of Obama merchandise.
Some of the t-shirts and caps are inscribed with the message: “Siaya… It is here that my story began” while others are emboldened in Dholuo monikers such as ‘‘Baba asewuok abiro dala, (Father, I have left US and I am coming home).
President Obama’s father, Barack Obama Snr, was born in K’Ogelo village in Siaya.
The little-known hamlet was thrust into the global limelight after Mr Obama became President, effectively becoming their most powerful son.
The excitement in Kisumu and Siaya can only be compared to November 2008 when President Obama, whose father was Kenyan, was elected to head the world’s most powerful nation.
On his election night, Nyanza region residents held a vigil, wore Obama-branded merchandise and spent their night watching the transmission of election results with jubilation.
Ahead of his visit on Friday, President Obama billboards have been erected in Kisumu while some businessmen have renamed their businesses after him.
“I decided to rename my hotel ‘Obama Snacks’ to attract more customers since everyone around here is talking about Obama,” said Collins Ochieng, a resident of Migosi Estate in Kisumu.
A giant billboard put up by Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga screams on the Kisumu-Busia highway, welcoming Obama home.
Ladies have not been left out of the fever, with many flocking salons for the trending “Obama” hairstyle.
According to Cecilia Awino, who runs The Strand salon in Kisumu’s Mega Plaza, more and more women started asking for the Obama hairdo two months ago after the announcement that he would be visiting the country for the entrepreneurship summit.
“We receive an average of three clients everyday who get plaited Obama lines,” she said.
Local artists have been busy producing Obama paintings, complete with his election campaign slogan ‘‘Yes we Can’’.
President Obama popularised the expression during his presidential election campaign in 2008.
Mr Hosea Owuor, a small-scale trader at Tivoli in Kisumu CBD who sells printed T-shirts and caps has sold more than 400 pieces for past three weeks.
Mr Owuor, who sells similar items for Gor Mahia fans as well as on individual orders, said the sales were nearly three times more than his average monthly sales.
.At Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, the entrance has been branded Obama Gate and the paediatric wing has also been christened “Obama Children’s Hospital”.
By TONNY OMONDI
Source : http://www.nation.co.ke
Daily Nation (Kenya)