Obama-mania As U.S. President Arrives In Kenya

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Written by Dana Sanchez

U.S. President Barack Obama landed at Nairobi’s international airport at about 8 p.m. local time, and he ran down the stairs of Air Force One to meet his half sister, along with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and other officials, BBC reports.

Billboards lining the route from the airport had messages for Obama like, “Welcome home Mr. President, SABC reported.

Excitement in Kenya reached fever pitch in the hours leading to his arrival, DW reports.

U.S. and Kenyan flags flew side by side, newly planted palm trees line the road to the airport and some Kenyans even downloaded an excerpt from an Obama speech as their mobile phone ring tone, according to DW.

The city of Kisumu, about a six-hour drive from Nairobi, was practically in lock down as police intensified security. It’s close to the village of Kogelo where Obama’s father, Barack Obama Sr, was born in 1936, DW reported.

In Kisumu, Robert Otieno is one of the many people who is benefiting from Obama’s visit. He started selling posters of the Obama family as soon as the visit was announced. “I sell 10 posters a day and I’m satisfied with the money,” he told DW.

Kenya is in the grip of Obama-mania, TheGuardian reported. People gathered on footbridges near the airport hours before his arrival to try catch a glimpse of him.

“To some Kenyans, it’s everything. People are glued to TV screens to see him arrive at the airport. Everyone is optimistic his visit will be fruitful,” said Billy Owino, who’s playing Obama in a musical version of his life.

The production is currently being staged at Kenya’s national theatre to celebrate Obama’s first visit here as U.S. president, The Guardian reports.