Change We Can Believe In
There have been a few changes recently in Kogelo, the rural homestead that the Kenyan branch of the Obama family calls home. Four years ago I made my way down a bumpy, rutted dirt track to find Granny Sarah’s little house. I was met by Said, one of her youngest sons (and a half-uncle to Barack Obama), and we spent a couple of hours on her sofas chatting about what might happen if “Barry” won a seat in the Senate. Chickens wandered in and out of the sitting room and neighbours dropped by, wondering why a mzungu was visiting. There was no electricity for miles.
Now you have to get past a six-foot gate and fence guarded around the clock by police. That was the result of burglars a few weeks back, who probably reasoned that the Obamas would have a bit of cash about the place. Mama Sarah has a solar panel for her TV and last week, the Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga (a Luo tribemate of Obama) dropped by for a “surprise” visit. This week government bulldozers and roadrollers have been brought in to smooth out the dirt track leading to the Obama homestead.
Today’s press conference there was a slightly muted affair. Malik, Obama’s elder half-brother, spoke to only about a dozen or so journalists about plans for the days ahead and the family’s exitement.
There have already been a few changes in Kogelo. And it’s only going to get more hectic from here.