3 Kenyans Obama Believes Hold the Country’s Future

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  • Barrack Obama went down as one of the most loved US presidents. Revered and endeared by many, he wasn’t shy of heaping praise and giving credit where it was due. 

    During his trip to Kenya in July 2015, Obama openly declared how much he entrusted his hopes for a better Kenya on three youthful bright minds.

    He had come from attending the Global Entrepreneurship Summit and spoke to the youth at Kasarani Stadium, Nairobi.

    “I look to Kenya’s future with hope and am hopeful because of you the people of Kenya. There are amazing examples of what’s going on with young people,” Obama stated.

    President Barrack Obama speaks to the youth at Kasarani Stadium, Nairobi in July 2015
    President Barrack Obama speaks to the youth at Kasarani Stadium, Nairobi in July 2015

    Richard Ruto Todosia

    He founded Yes Youth Can, a civil society organization in Kenya. The program is funded by USAID. The movement’s participants include entrepreneurs and leaders. 

    Through it, members devised ways to develop small businesses that would improve their lives. 

    By 2015, the movement had registered more than 125,000 youth who volunteer in different activities in the nation. The youth were also incorporated into Saccos where they saved money and had access to loans. 

    “I’m hopeful because of a young man named Richard Ruto Todosia. Richard helped build Yes Youth Can—I like that phrase, ‘Yes Youth Can’… After the violence of 2007 and 2008, Yes Youth Can stood up to incitement and helped bring opportunities to young people that were scarred by conflict. That’s the kind of young leadership that we need,” Obama stated.

    Josephine Kulea

    The 36-year-old is a women’s rights campaigner. She birthed her activism from personal experience after she was rescued from female genital mutilation and forced marriage as a child.

    Josephine Kulea, a human rights activist in Kenya
    Josephine Kulea, a human rights activist in Kenya

    She founded the Samburu Girls Foundation in early 2012 and by September that year, she had rescued over 56 girls. She facilitated their secondary education too.

    “I am hopeful because of a young woman named Josephine Kulea. Founded Samburu Girls Foundation and she has helped rescue over 1,000 girls from abusive and forced marriages and helped place them in schools. 

    “She personally planned rescue missions to help girls as young as six years old and she explains that the longer a girl is in school, everything for her changes. She gives me hope,” Obama lauded.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta have been at the forefront in the fight against FGM. In December 2019, while at State House, Kenyatta reiterated his fight against the practice.

    “FGM is a retrogressive practice whose continued existence in our country in actual fact assaults our individual and our national consciousness.

    “The practice is inimical to our shared fundamental values as enshrined in our very own constitution that we as Kenyans passed,” the president affirmed.

    Jamila Abbas

    The 36-year-old is an expert in computer science, a software engineer, and a businesswoman. 

    Jamila Abbas, MFarm co-founder
    Jamila Abbas, MFarm co-founder

    In 2010, she co-founded MFarm Kenya, alongside Susan Oguya. Jamila became the chief executive officer of the digital firm.

    MFarm aids farmers in researching and accessing weather reports and market information. 

    In 2010, the two, alongside three friends, won approximately Ksh1 million an information technology competition organised by an organisation from Estonia.

    “Here’s what Jamila said, ‘I love Kenya because you feel you are home anywhere you go’. That’s the Kenya that welcomed me 30 years ago (the 1980s), as a young man, you helped me feel at home standing here today. 

    “When I think of all the young people here, you make me feel at home and I am confident that your future is going to be written by confident young people like you,” Obama praised.

    He further called upon the youth to strive towards a better Kenya through teamwork.

    “You are young men and women who don’t have to struggle under a colonial power, who don’t have to look overseas to realise your dreams. Yes, you can realise your dreams right here right now. We have not inherited this land from our forebear, we have borrowed it for our children.

    “Now is the time to do the hard work of living to that inheritance of building a Kenya where the inherent dignity of every person is respected and protected and there is no limit to what a child can achieve,” Obama proclaimed. 

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