African Press International (API)

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Posted by African Press International on November 24, 2008

api-correspondent-leo-odera-omoloBusiness Feature By Leo odera omolo(Photo)

The recent overwhelming election victory of the US President-elect Barrack Obama jnr who has a family root and background in Western Kenya is a Big Blessing and is likely to have a significant economic impact in the region.

The tiny semi-bushy and dust Kogelo village, which is located about ten kilometers in the south east of Siaya town has become the behest of intensive business activities in the recent past. The village is frequented by businessmen, especially those involved in the tourist operation, hoteliers and others. Apart from businessmen, the village is witnessing the trooping of a battery of journalists from both locally and internationally.

Kenyas Minister fir Tourism Najib Balala flew into Kisumu at the weekend and made a surprise visit to Kogelo village, located about 80 km in the north west . The Minister visited Mama Sarah Obama, the step grand mother of the US President-elect and disclosed that the government of Kenya intend to construct a modest Museum at an estimate cost of Kshs 5 million. The work is to commence immediately.

The proposed Museum, which will accommodate the history of the Obama family background is also to be stocked with the artifacts and works of the late Barrack Obama snr, the father of the US President Elect.

Also to be stored at the Museum are documentary explanation of the Obama family history and background that those featuring the Kogelo sub-clan as a whole..

The surprise visit by Minister Balala is expected to rekindle the sleeping blue print of Western Kenya Tourist circuit made nearly 40 years ago, but which has for all these years remained in the drawing board without being implemented. It will open up the influx of tourists to the expansive Rift Valley then to Lake Victoria before they wound up the trip at the Obamas family Museum at Kogelo Village.

The sleepy Western Kenya Tourist Circuit was made public in 1965, but could not be implemented by the government of the day due to some political disagreement between the local politicians and the first founding President of Kenya Mzee Jomo Kenyatta . The stumbling bloc was none other than the doyen of the opposition’s politics in Kenya the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, the father of the present Kenyas powerful Prime Minister Raila Odinga. The late Odinga and the late President Jomo Kenyatta had sharp ideological differences, which saw Odinga walking out of the Kenyatta administration and forming an opposition party, the defunct Kenya Peoples Union {KPU}

And thereafter the region, especially Nyanza Province, the home of the late Mr. Odinga was marginalized by the governments after the governments impoverizing the people. Kenyatta died in August 1978 and was succeeded by his former Vice President Daniel Arap Moi who continued pursuing the policy of his mentor and predecessor to the latter.

But the recent election victory by Obama in the US has ushered into the region the stream of activities in his ancestral Kogelo home village with tourism officials seeking to brand it as a tourist attraction site. The area has not only attracted tourists alone, but a battery of local and international newsmen.

The chairperson of the Domestic Tourism Council of Kenyan, Ms Anastasia Wakesho become the first most important official to pay a visit to Kogelo village. Her visit was followed by that of the Chief Executive of the Kenya Tourism Board Dr. Ongonga Achieng…

During his brief visit visit Minister Balala who danced jubilantly with the 86 granny Mama Sarah Obama to the tune of local Luo music Nyatiti announced that a new route to take travelers from Nairobi through the expansive Rift Valley and to the shorelines of Lake Victoria before winding up at Kogelo Village the home of Barrack Obama jnrs father was in the offing.

The Minister said the government and other players in the tourism industry in Kenyan are expecting the number of American tourists to rise by between 10 to 15 per cent due to the Obama effect.

The increase if truly realized, said the Minister, would be significant for the industry, considering that America is the second largest source market for tourists coming to the country after the UK.

Ms Wakesho was among the first tourist operators to visit Kogelo Village. Other players in the industry are already gearing up for such a possibility.

A stream of visits by top tourist operators and government officials to Kogelo Village and its environs comes soon after Barrack Obama jnr resounding victory in the US Presidential race.

All of them seemed to come outtomwork for the new tourist route for the Western Kenya Tourist Circuit.

Ms Wakeshos own company Karibu Paradise Safaris Has already designed a route for the region with great expectation of both domestic ands foreign tourists would soon be streaming into Kogelo Village for sight seeing after visiting other tourist attraction scenery around Lake Victoria..

She told newsmen that she has already worked out for a program, which will covering six parliamentary constituencies in the region on a day trip with the night bat Siaya or Kisumu City.

Meanwhile A Spiritual leader from the West African state of Ghana last week quietly slipped into Kogelo Village the home of Barrack Obamas paternal relatives. Peter Anamoh is the first foreign dignitary to pay the homage to the Obama family. The other celebrity is the populist Congolese musician Kanda Bongo Man who visited Mama Sarah Obama s village home two weeks ago, after performing a concert in the heart of Kisumu City, which attracted c lose to 500,000 people.

The Ghanaian spiritual leader said he had traveled all the way from Accra Ghana to come and bless the Obama family. He is credited to have predicted Obama presidential ambition long before he even made his intention public four years ago.

Anamoh appealed to the Kenya government to establish an international conference centre at Kogelo alongside the Museum to serve as the last monument of the victory of the first African American to the presidency of the World most powerful nation on the earth.


About the writer,

Leo Odera Omolo is a veteran Kenyan journalist and author who is working as a freelance journalist in Kisumu City, but frequenting the neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda for news coverage at regular intervals. He can be reached at cellphone No 0722-486181 or 0734 509215


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