President Obama spent less than 24 hours in sub-Saharan Africa during his first four years in office, but many believe the half-Kenyan leader will make official visits to more countries in Africa during his second term in office.
"Presidents do take special pleasure in traveling to places where they have ancestral ties. Given the large role that Africa plays in the family history of President Obama, I'd be really surprised if he didn't travel there in the second term,” Brendon Doherty, an associate professor of political science at the U.S. Naval Academy who studies presidential travel patterns, told the Associated Press.
Speaking to a Kenyan news outlet in June 2010, Obama boldly declared, "I'm positive that before my service as president is completed I will visit Kenya again.”
Although the president’s vow to return is something that he likely took very seriously, given the challenges of his first term in office, it seems that he may have just been too busy to get around to it.
"He is a Kenyan who many people want to see in person," Sam Ochieng, a political leader in Nairobi's largest slum, Kibera, told AP. "I am proud that he is a Kenyan and that he is the president of a superpower."
Obama’s only presidential visit to sub-Saharan Africa was to Ghana in July 2009. Despite the lack of presidential face time on the continent, administration officials say they are putting in real work that is making a difference.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson recently trumpeted the Obama administration’s work on the African continent by highlighting U.S. assistance to such countries as Somalia and South Sudan. He also pointed out that the U.S. has provided more aid to Africa the last four years than any other country has.
U.S. involvement in Somalia "has turned one of Africa's most enduring, intractable and seemingly hopeless conflicts into a major success story and a potential model for the resolution of other conflicts," Carson boasted.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari, File)
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