Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga is now Dr. Raila Amolo Odinga having been honored with an honorary PhD from Florida A & M University where he was commencement speaker for the class of 2012.
The PM was hosted to a dinner organized by Dr. Barrack Abonyo and his team following the graduation ceremonies .
Prior to traveling to Tallahassee, the PM had a busy schedule meeting Kenyans and business leaders in Atlanta.
On his arrival, the PM had a private dinner with Kenyans and friends of Kenya at the Ritz Carrolton led by David Karangu, a successful Kenyan businessman in Atlanta, GA who also hosted the PM and invited guests to a dinner at his palacious home the next day.
Prior to that dinner, the PM had a luncheon hosted by the World Affairs Council of Atlanta at the Ritz Carlton where the PM reminisced about how his father, Jaramogi, was arrested in the same city for attending a civil rights meeting.
Jaramogi, then vice president, was arrested with civil rights leaders including Dr. Martin Luther King by ignorant and racist cops who did not know they had arrested a Vice President of a sovereign nation and when the buffoons discovered, they quickly offered to release him but he insisted they will have to release everyone and not just him, which they did.
Upon arriving for his visit, Dr. Odinga was shown the new international concourse at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and from there, he was taken to meet with former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., mayor of Atlanta and U.S. representative, Ambassador Andrew Young.
“Andy Young as you know is no longer very young,” said the PM, about Mr. Young who recently celebrated his 80th birthday, “but he’s still Andy Young.”
The PM reminded the audience how the late Tom Mboya organized the “Airlift Africa” project with African-American Students Foundation, which brought more than 80 Kenyans to study in U.S. universities.
Mr. Mboya later persuaded then-Sen. John M Kennedy to support the program, which he did and many more Kenyans eventually studied in the U.S. under the program including the current US president’s father Barack Obama, Sr.
In addition to the personal ties to Atlanta, Dr. Odinga spoke about the extensive U.S. aid and assistance in the development of infrastructure, economic development and military aid for security purposes in Kenya.
He reviewed Kenya’s Vision 30 development plan which is the blue-print for Kenya to become an industrialized, middle-income country through advances in its economy, social services and political system.
The PM discussed various opportunities for foreign investment in infrastructure projects involving airports, roads and railways, communications systems, education, green energy and education and highlighted the importance of taking development to the countryside.
The PM also reviewed several of Kenya’s “mega projects,” including the development of a new port on the island of Lamu, a railroad that will join the Atlantic and Indian oceans and several energy projects ranging from expanding solar, wind and geothermal capacities to extensive oil pipelines and oil exploration.
There plans underway, the PM informed the audience, for the government to organize a major conference on the opportunities for foreign investment but it’s undecided whether to hold the conference in Frankfurt, Germany, London, UK, or New York.
After the luncheon, a group of Kenyans met at the Ritz lobby to unwind while the PM was meeting a long line of visitors in his suite much as though he was at his office in Nairobi.
From the Ritz, the PM and invited guests headed to Mr. Karangu’s residence for dinner where upon arrival guests were ushered downstairs for a reception followed by formal dinner at his spacious patio overlooking a beautiful home the owner must be cursing Mr. Karangu daily for huge as his own home is, Mr. Karangu’s towers over it making it look so small but such is life.
Indeed, Mr. Ndirangu’s crib is one to behold and was the subject of much of the talk with everyone who could not but admire the home and especially the décor the couple have done an excellent job putting together both taste and style.
After the dinner, the PM and entourage headed to the Comfort Inn to address Kenyans gathered there to hear him speak.
Although the meeting started a bit late, the hall was packed and the PM did not finish addressing the full-house until long after 11PM and in his speech the PM recapped progress the coalition government has made mirroring what the President had said the day before in his State of the Union address.
H.E. Ambassador Elkanah Odembo who as usual oversees these visits and following protocol, introduced Hon. Onyancha who in turn introduced Hon. Langat Magerer, Assistant Minister for Energy to introduce the PM and did so in brief remarks noting the contributions Kenyans in the diaspora make back home and had the audience laughing by basically saying wakae hivyo hivyo and not go back home.
The PM then gave a rousing speech, starting by noting how Mr. Ndirangu had asked him to visit Kenyans in Atlanta some time ago and he noted he agreed to have his schedule changed so he can accommodate the request.
He then thanked Mr. Ndirangu for his superb hosting, including the dinner which he had the audience laugh by saying he was thinking about what Idi Amin told Her Majesty the Queen of England after hosting him to dinner, “Thank you for the dinner; I have eaten so much I am fed up…I must invite you to come to my country and when you come, I shall revenge to you.”
The audience burst in laughter and the PM resumed to recap again accomplishments of the coalition government and other than the personal anecdotes told in the luncheon earlier, the PM gave a similar speech as outlined above.
On Friday morning, the PM met with a group of leaders from Atlanta, DC and Minneapolis and from there headed to the airport where he was flown by private jet to Tallahassee for his final leg of the trip.
ODM Secretary General, Prof. Anyang Nyong’o had earlier met with US ODM leaders at a meeting held at Georgia Tech where he updated them about developments on the political front and on the way forward and took feedback from the leaders with more dialogue expected to follow.
In sum, the PM’s trip was a huge success.
On a more personal note, I thank our friend David Karangu for a superb job in leading the hosting of the PM in Atlanta. This was one of the best organized visit of the PM and much credit goes to David and Mark Tindi for making sure the trip was a success as it was, especially in having such a large turn-out of Kenyans on a Thursday evening event. The event shows how much Kenyans in the diaspora are interested in what’s going on in our country and want very much to be a part of it and that’s very commendable.
For his part, the PM has not let anyone down as he is regularly visiting with Kenyans in the diaspora and keeping them updated on progress back home–slow as it may be for his preference but there is progress nonetheless and we thank him as well for his making it possible to have these important meetings with Kenyans in the diaspora.