Obama snubs Kenya's diaspora conference By KEVIN J. KELLEY in Washington | Monday, October 10 2011 at 18:27
More than 500 US residents with a blood connection to Kenya gathered in Washington on Saturday in the first conference focused on the diaspora's relationship with the homeland.
One particularly prominent figure was absent however: President Barack Obama.
Kenya's US ambassador Elkanah Odembo said organisers had invited President Obama, whose father was Kenyan, to attend the event.
The White House replied that the President's schedule did not allow for such an appearance.
Mr Odembo added that “there had been talk Mrs Obama might join us.” But the First Lady also did not attend.
Although President Obama has made scant mention of Kenya since taking office, he does pay close attention to what is happening in the country, Mr Odembo said.
“He gets updated on a regular basis,” the ambassador said, noting that aides brief President Obama on major stories in the Daily Nation and Standard.
“We have a very good relationship with people in the White House,” Kenya's envoy continued.
The embassy gets calls from high-ranking officials at least once a week, Mr Odembo said.
Two recent contacts followed the pipeline explosion in a Nairobi slum and the death of Wangari Maathai, the ambassador recounted.
Assistant minister for Foreign Affairs Richard Onyonka, who was substituting as conference keynote speaker for Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, added at a press conference that he hoped President Obama would visit Kenya during the remaining 15 months of his first term.
Mr Onyonka added, however, that he knew of no plans for such a visit.
He had earlier told the gathering at a Washington hotel that Mr Mutunga had been unable to make his scheduled appearance due to “extremely unavoidable circumstances”.
Also taking part in the conference were Prof Ali Mazrui, a world-renowned Kenya scholar who teaches in New York, and Calestous Juma, a professor at Harvard University.
Your take on Oscar Pistorius' five-year jail sentencespeak out
Read Story: Your take on Oscar Pistorius' five-year jail sentence
- The lives of the filthy rich African presidents and their families
- Oliver Mtukudzi discloses HIV status
- Meet Kenya's richest 25
- Zambia VP Guy Scott named acting leader
- The intriguing love tale of slain South Africa goalie
- Zambian President Sata dies in London
- The girl who met Gaddafi 'in hell'
- Burkina Faso parliament set ablaze
- Zambian minister insists President Sata 'not dead'
- Tanzanians accuse president of betrayal