Obamania au Kenya: normal
Obama monument to cost Sh112 million
The Kenyan Government plans to build a Sh112 million cultural centre in honour of US President Barack Obama at his ancestral home in Kogelo. The Sunday Nation has learnt that the proposal to construct the Obama Cultural and Leadership Centre, will be part of discussions by permanent secretaries during a meeting at Nairobi's Harambee House on Monday.
The project is meant to attract a large number of tourists from across the world, who may be interested in visiting the ancestral home of the man who surmounted racial barriers, to become the president of the world’s most powerful nation.
Ironically, the government is seeking to cash in on Obama’s ancestry, even as Washington steps up pressure on Nairobi to carry out judicial and security reforms, that are considered vital to save Kenya from another round of politically inspired violence.
The meeting of PSs called for on Monday by Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura, will discuss the tourism project and compensation to the US President’s family in Siaya for the land, among other agenda items. The letter summoning the top State executives is dated October 29, 2009, and is signed by Mr Muthaura’s deputy, Sam Mwale.
The circular says this development now places tourism-related issues firmly in the national development, planning, budgeting and decision making by providing the ideal legal and policy framework.
“Owing to the crucial position that tourism occupies in the national development agenda, especially in the delivery of the goals of the Kenya Vision 2030, it is expected that Parliament will give this Bill priority,” the circular seen by the Sunday Nation says.
The Culture and National Heritage ministry had announced early this year that it had proposed a cultural centre comprised of a museum, a gallery, a library and a leadership centre to be created in Kogelo. The move that declares Kogelo a tourism site came after the Cabinet approved a new Tourism Bill and Policy in August.
Heritage minister William Ole Ntimama confirmed to the Sunday Nation on Saturday that the government had decided to make President Obama’s father’s Kogelo home a national heritage site. “This is a great opportunity to open up the western tourism circuit, and we have asked Treasury to find us some money so that we can roll out a number of projects that will make this a truly memorable cultural site,” Mr Ntimama said.
A proposed Tourism Bill, which will provide the legal basis for the policy, proceeds to Parliament for debate and enactment. Currently, tourism is governed by several fragmented Acts of Parliament and legal notices, including those establishing existing public institutions.
According to the National Tourism Policy, Kenya has traditionally been regarded and developed as a coastal (beach) and wildlife safari destination. “The National Tourism Policy seeks to develop and diversify tourism products in Kenya. The strategies to develop and diversify tourism products will focus mainly on eco-tourism, conference tourism, sports, and cultural tourism,” it explains.
It states that the potential exists to spread tourism to new areas away from the most visited and crowded destinations, especially western Kenya, North Rift, Central and North Eastern provinces.