First Black president is making history

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, left, shakes hands with President Barack Obama as he departs Kenyatta International Airport, on Sunday, July 26, 2015, in Nairobi. On the final day of his visit in Kenya, Obama laid out his vision for Kenya’s future and broad themes of U.S.-Kenya relations.
Associated Press / Evan Vucci

By far Egypt tops the list of African countries visited by any commander-in-chief of the United States.

Senegal and South Africa lags distantly behind to take second and third-most visited African nations by any president. According to the state department, American presidents have visited only 16 of Africa’s 54 countries.

With President Barack Obama’s recent trip to Kenya and Ethiopia that figure inches to 18.

Headlines reporting the president’s visit have primarily focused on the fact the first Black leader of the United States made history as the first sitting leader to visit the two east African nations.

With detailed emphasis, it should be noted that by stepping onto the soil of his father’s ancestral home in Kenya President Obama again made history being a native son and the very first to return with such prominence.

That he was introduced to speak by his sister, Auma Obama and sat to eat with family members who still live there uniquely distinguishes this president from any other.

“He gets us,” Auma Obama said.

“He’s one of us.”

“I’m the first Kenyan-American to be president of the United States. That goes without saying,” President Obama said.

It is already historical that no other president has ever considered Kenya a destination to discuss trade or any other topic proves worthy that Kenya is named among the seven fastest growing economies in the world.

Reportedly, he received a standing ovation there.

“Kenya is on the move, Africa is on the move,” he told the crowd at the sports hall.

After talking on a myriad of topics he warned Kenya not to ignore the plight of women.

Kenya will “not succeed if it treats women and girls as second-class citizens,” he said.

“Just because something is a tradition doesn’t mean it’s right,” the U.S. president said.

“Treating women as a second-class citizen is a bad tradition. It’s holding you back,” he added, condemning domestic violence, sexual assault and genital mutilation.

Obama tackled the sensitive matter on his first full day in Kenya, using human rights as a narrative to convey nostalgia of his own heritage while noting that slavery and segregation in America made him “painfully aware of the history when people are treated differently under the law.”

Although he was warned not to advocate for gay rights, President Obama also challenged another unpopular topic by pleading for all African nations to treat gays and lesbians equally under the law.

“That’s the path whereby freedoms begin to erode and bad things happen,” the president added during a joint news conference with Kenyatta.

“When a government gets in the habit of treating people differently, those habits can spread.”

His Kenyan counterpart, President Uhuru Kenyatta responded by describing the topic a “non-issue” in his country.

Gay rights “is not really an issue on the foremost mind of Kenyans,” Kenyatta said. “And that is a fact.”

The Kenyan gay community consistently complains of violent harassment. Throughout Kenya and particularly in Nairobi, gay sex is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Now on a list of economically progressive nations, Kenya along with Ethiopia is listed with China among the fastest surging nations towards self-sufficiency.

President Obama etched another page into history books when he landed at Bole Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

As the oldest independent nation in Africa, Ethiopia has long been considered a sacred spot on the map and Biblically one of the first nations mentioned in the oldest book referenced by Christians.

Prior to leaving America recently, President Barack Obama made history visiting a U.S. prison.

He was the very first president to ever set foot inside an American correctional facility.

Going back earlier in the year, April he also made history laying a wreath at Jamaica’s Heroes Circle where the first — Marcus Mosiah Garvey — and the island’s national heroes are buried.

That he forged historic deals with Cuba’s President Raul Castro in Panama afterwards and later announced that Cuba’s name would be removed from the terror watch list was unprecedented and historic for normalization of relations between the two nations.

Theodore Roosevelt was the first U.S. president to go outside the country. Reportedly, in a brief November 1906 visit to Panama he observed progress of construction of the canal.

Only a handful of presidents have visited Africa.

In 1943 when travel by ship was commonplace, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt made history as the first to travel internationally by air.

He went to Morocco, the Gambia and Liberia.

Prior to going to Africa he also went to Trinidad in the Caribbean.

Jimmy Carter made history as the first to visit sub-Saharan Africa in 1978.

He also visited Nigeria and Liberia.

George H. Bush spent two days in 1992 visiting Somalia.

And Bill Clinton will be remembered among the leaders to have visited more African nations than any other.

In 1998 Clinton visited South Africa, Senegal, Botswana, Rwanda, Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania and Nigeria in 2000.

And who will ever forget George W. Bush dancing his way through the continent in Botswana, Senegal and Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda.

President Bush also visited Benin, Tanzania Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia in 2008 and undoubtedly stepped and danced on many more African turfs than any other president.

The first Black leader has also visited Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa and Senegal.

And while each port of call has its own unique significance, the fact while in Ghana President Obama and his wife, mother-in-law and wife visited a slave port, again names him a history maker and the only president to see the final exit point of Africans before being sold into slavery.

The Obama family became eye witnesses to “the door of no return” a small gateway that Africans were forced to walk through before being loaded into slave ships bound for the West.

The president was greeted by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn before the 25-car convoy left for the U.S. embassy.

This trip also establishes his visit with the distinction of being the only president to meet with African heads at the headquarters of the 45-nation African Union in Addis Ababa.

That Ethiopia is one of the founding members to form the United Nations also holds significance.

Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous nation. Regarded as one of the most stable in Africa, many Ethiopians often boast that except for a brief five-year occupation by Mussolini’s Italy, Ethiopia has never been colonized.

Its unique cultural heritage distinguishes it as the home of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church — one of the oldest Christian churches in the world.

Additionally, a monarchy headed by HIM Emperor Haile Selassie I holds significance with a faction of the Ethiopian populous and Africans residing thousands of miles outside its borders. Allegedly, his rule ended in the coup of 1974.

However, Rastafarians residing there — particularly in Shashemane — and throughout the world still revere HIM as their spiritual leader and a descendant of King Solomon and Queen Sheba as referenced in the Holy Bible.

While in Ethiopia, Pres. Obama held talks with regional leaders on the civil war in South Sudan.

The two-term elected president also maintains the distinction of being the only sitting president to visit Cambodia and Myanmar in Asia.

He made those historic visits in 2012.

According to Wikipedia, Pres Obama visited 40 countries during his first term in office.

As of July 2015, Pres. Obama has visited 17 more countries during his second term in office.

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