Today, just one week ago, the hearts of Kenyans across the nation, and world, were alight. Not just Kenyans of direct descent, but those of any connection to the great land, anywhere across the globe.
For many, it was their first time in a long time, if not their lifetime, that such pride was aglow in their beings, such anticipation in their breaths, such a feeling of worth in their spirits.
The reason? The official communiques all expressed the same message: the President of the United States of America was making a state visit to attend the 6th Global Entrepreneurship Summit. But for Kenyans, far and wide, however they may be connected to this great land, it was about so much more than a leader of the free world landing on their tarmac in Air Force One, with all of the protocol, pomp and pageantry. Their son was coming home.
As eloquently expressed by one of Kenya’s proud nationals in the lead-up to the presidential visit, Kenyans were able to “bask in the glory and honor of ushering ‘our own son of the soil’ for the grand homecoming that seems to remind us that #weareone.”
After years of waiting, having been seemingly passed over during his first visit to the continent on taking office, despite debate around issues of safety and security, Kenya’s son was returning home. All was forgiven.
Months of intense preparation and days of sweet anticipation crescendoed to a moment of complete jubilation seeing his sharply cut figure descending the aircraft staircase to be warm embraces of his half-sister and H.E. President Kenyatta. A nation that has been breathing heavily for years, as a result of unprecedented challenges to its peace or mind and place which has put untold pressure on the lives and livelihoods of its people, and weakened the threads of its flag, was finally able to exhale, exhale deeply, and smile.
The power of this feeling of national pride cannot, and should not, ever be forgotten.
For Kenyans, without doubt, they will never. But the after-glow does not end with the people of Kenya. Across the globe, people watching President Obama speaking to the people of his father’s homeland, felt the glow start to penetrate their hearts:
Words of inspiration, direction and unity.
Words clearly expressing the thoughts and feelings of one of the world’s great leaders and the nation’s great sons – words which showed solidarity of beliefs, and at times, differences, passion of position, wherever shared or not.
Words which stated the desire to be part of the solution, there on the front line of challenges, hand in hand.
Words which the President knew would echo in the minds and history books of Kenya and the United States of America for years to come.
Words spoken by one to another, and another, and another, and another…from one country, reaching out to one world. With each speech, soundbyte and snapshot, the Presidential visit provided a rare occasion when the global community could look at another nation and smile, excited for them, there with them, from wherever in the world they may be tuning in, logging in, reading, celebrating with the people of Kenya.
In those moments, history was being made, at so many levels. Political? Yes, of course. But also deeply personal.
The calling home of Kenya’s son turned into a calling on of all people to stand up, and step forward, in facing today’s challenges, and embracing today’s opportunity, for one safer, more secure, more united and more compassionate tomorrow.
As with all callings, the meaning soaked in. As, for a moment, across the globe, geopolitics were paused as people felt the pure comfort and pride of knowing, as President Obama said it so simply yet poetically in his address to the nation, “In the end, we are all a part of one tribe, the human tribe.”
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2015