Siaya and Kisumu county governors Monday depicted contrasting scenarios to security as former President Barack Obama toured K’Ogelo.
While Prof Anyang Nyong’o of Kisumu bowed to demands and accepted to be searched at the gate of Sauti Kuu Resource Centre, Siaya governor Cornel Rasanga refused threatening to return home if they insisted on what he saw as public humiliation.
Prof Nyong’o, wearing his grey Kaunda suit, was searched together with his deputy Mathews Owili while Mr Rasanga was adamant and sought an exemption.
KK Security Company guards, unable to handle the impasse passed the buck to a Secret Service agent at the gate. The agent then asked local security officers to confirm if indeed Mr Rasanga was the governor. Once they did, he was allowed with his deputy James Okumbe. However, his bodyguard had to be searched after he also tried to push his way through with a firearm.
The incidents, isolated and separate, punctuated the tight security as Obama arrived in a village where his father was born. He was there to launch the Sauti Kuu Resource Centre, an initiative by his half-sister Auma Obama.
Wearing grey trousers, sunglasses and a white shirt with folded sleeves, Mr Obama arrived in the village in a convoy of security and diplomatic cars from Kisumu International Airport, at around 8.30am and headed straight the home of his grandmother Sarah Obama.
Security officials barred a crowd that had surged on the roadside from entering the resource centre.
Only invited guests and accredited media were allowed access.
Mr Obama asked Kenyan leaders to push for equal opportunities as a way of fighting poverty and encouraging resilience.
“It means rooting out corruption, it means seeing different ethnicities not as enemies or rivals but as allies, seeing the diversity not as a weakness but as a strength,” he said.
Not restricted by protocol this time, Mr Obama repeated remarks he made in 2015 in Nairobi, where he said fewer Kenyans need to travel abroad or even emigrate to get a good education, which means more youth can have opportunities in the country if the right policies are put in place.