For as long as Barack has been alive, his village has been peppered with tributes to his namesake, the American president whose father was born here in 1936. Thousands of tourists have come to see the village the president described in his memoir—writing that his life’s trajectory “was connected with this small plot of earth an ocean away.” After Obama was elected, electricity arrived in Kogelo. The only road to the village was paved. A Kenyan security detail was dispatched.
Next month, Obama will make his first trip to Kenya as president. If he returns to Kogelo, he’ll find a village lifted by its association with the world’s most powerful man but still wrestling with disease and poverty. He’ll find people proud enough to name their boys Barack Obama but disappointed that he waited until the seventh year of his presidency to return to his father’s homeland.