NAIROBI – Former United States president Barack Obama called on Monday for an end to ethnic tensions and tribal conflicts, citing Kenya, the country of his father’s birth, as an example for Africa.
On the second and final day of his trip to Kenya, Obama spoke to members of the press at the inauguration of a youth center run by his half-sister Auma through her charity, the Sauti Kuu Foundation, in his father’s home village of Kogelo in the country’s southwest.
“Kenya has made extraordinary strides in recent decades – There has been real progress in this amazing country and it should inspire today’s young Kenyans to demand even more progress,” Obama, the first black US president, said during the ceremony.
“But we know real progress lies in addressing the challenges that remain. It means rooting out the corruption to make a civic life. It means not seeing different ethnicities as enemies but rather as allies and seeing the diversity of tribes not as a weakness, but as a strength,” added the former president, who served two terms from 2009-2017.
Obama’s remarks were in reference to recent tumultuous events in Kenyan politics following the disputed August 2017 presidential election, which fragmented along tribal lines after opposition leader Raila Odinga refused to accept the reelection of President Uhuru Kenyatta, citing widespread fraud.
Later Monday, Obama is set to fly to South Africa to participate in a conference on Tuesday ahead of the 100-year anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, the late South African president and anti-apartheid leader, to take place Wednesday.