Kogelo villagers all set for the US

Prime Minister Raila Odinga (centre); Barack Obama's grandmother, Sarah Obama and US Ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger. Sarah Obama will lead a team of eight members from Kogelo to attend Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony on January 20. Photo/FILE

The US embassy has granted visas to eight members of the Kogelo community to attend the inauguration of Mr Barack Obama as President on January 20 in Washington DC.

The number excludes five immediate family members of Mr Obama who will also be travelling to the US.

A community representative, Mr Nicholas Rajula, said the eight-member party would be leaving for the United States on January 16 for an 11-day stay. Mr Rajula said the visitors would be hosted by Kenyans resident in America.

“Eight people’s visa applications have been approved,” he said, adding that the community sought assistance from Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s office to get the travel documents.

Mr Rajula also said several donors had offered to sponsor the journey to the US but warned that those that attached conditions would not be accepted.

“This is purely a Kogelo affair and we do not want donors who come with tough conditions.”

The eight people in the party are Mr Rajula and his wife Nelly, Siaya district commissioner Boaz Cherutich, Senator Obama Secondary School principal Uanita Obiero and the school’s board chairperson, Mr Charles Ochome.

Others for the trip are a senior medic at Aga Khan Hospital, Dr Cliff Rajula, the President-elect’s uncle Said Obama’s wife and Ms Jenipher Lodiaga. The five family members to attend the inauguration will be led by Mr Obama’s grandmother, Mrs Sarah Onyango.

“We felt that as the Kogelo community, we needed to give the family support and work with them to make this occasion a memorable one,” said Mr Rajula.

Meanwhile, the community has scheduled a meeting next week to decide on the gift to take to Mr Obama as he takes over from Mr George W. Bush as the 44th president of the United States.