Editor’s note: The following article is based on a paid, 8,000-word report by Kenyan researchers commissioned by WND. Unknown to WND, the report included unattributed references to a July 25, 2008, story by the Evening Standard of London. WND included a link to the 2008 story to back up the claims of the report, which WND believed was original. WND regrets the error.
A school named for Barack Obama in Kenya has abandoned hope that the U.S. president will honor a pledge he made as senator to finance it, according to a report in Kenya commissioned by WND.
The report further revealed that Obama’s step-grandmother, Sarah Hussein Obama, continues to live the modest rural life she lived before Obama became president, despite greater security provided by the Kenyan government.
Today, Kogelo is a fenced-in rural village with 24-hour government-funded police surveillance that keeps press and visitors at bay, preventing direct access to the Obama family members there.
A former Kenyan Parliament member with whom WND has worked confidentially since 2008 compiled the report. The research was assigned to trusted Kenyan professionals who conducted the field work and reported their findings in writing.
Obama fails to fund school named after him
According to the report, the Senator Obama Secondary School’s senior teacher, Dalmas Raloo, is at a loss to explain why Obama has failed to fund the school named after him, as promised.
Raloo said Obama’s family in Kenya is mystified by what they are calling “Obama’s lapse.”
“If you ask whether the family think Obama should give something to the village and to the school, the answer is ‘Yes, definitely,’” Raloo said. “But support should come from Obama spontaneously. We shouldn’t have to ask him to keep his promises.”
Exhibit 1: Gate to Senator Obama Kogelo Secondary School, Kenya
The Kenyan research team documented that at his historic homecoming in August 2006, Obama was greeted as a hero with thousands lining the dirt streets of Kogelo.
“Obama visited the Senator Obama Kogelo Secondary School – named after him – built on land donated by his paternal grandfather,” the report reads. “After addressing the pupils, a third of whom are orphans, and dancing with them as they sang songs in his honor, Obama was shown a school with four dilapidated classrooms that lacked even basic resources, such as water, sanitation and electricity.”
Obama told the assembled press and local politicians, including his fellow Luo tribesman and current prime minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga, that, “Hopefully I can provide some assistance to this school and all that it can be.”
At the same event, Obama told the school’s principal, Yuanita Obiero, and her teachers: “I know you are working very hard and struggling to bring up the school, but I have said I will assist the school, and I will do so.”
Citing the quotations, the London Evening Standard on July 25, 2008, reported that Obiero interpreted Obama’s words as an offer of financial assistance.
Obiero further referenced to the newspaper a letter dated June 22, 2005, addressed to her and signed by Obama shortly after his 2004 election to the U.S. Senate.
Obama wrote: “I am honored that you have decided to rename the Kogelo School in my name.”
Obiero and her board of governors even presented a nine-page proposal to Obama asking for $8.2 million Kenyan shillings, about $98,000 to upgrade the school. The requests were to sink a borehole and build a water tank, erect a perimeter fence, complete a science laboratory, add new classes, build additional latrines and add a school dining hall.
In 2006, when then-U.S. Ambassador William Bellamy came to visit the school for the renaming ceremony, Obiero gave him two copies of the proposal – one for the U.S. Embassy and the other for then Sen. Obama.
Today, the village of Kogelo has lost hope that Obama will fulfill his promise to fund the school named after him.
A fenced-in rural village
After the killing of Osama bin Laden, Kenya has tightened security around the house of Grandmother Sarah in Kenya.
“As a result of the security challenges, including the threat of terror, I can confirm that we decided to improve security at home,” she said.
Francis Muti, the regional administrator said there was no immediate threat to the family, but Kenya was on high alert after a warning from adherents of al-Qaida after U.S. Special Forces in Pakistan killed bin Laden.
“All the guests were to be examined in detail,” Muti said. “Everyone, including family members have to facilitate the work of security forces.”
As seen in Exhibit 2, the village of Kogelo containing Sarah’s home has been fenced with barbed wire and with a notice board displaying the authorized visiting hours.
Exhibit 2: Fence enclosing Grandmother Sarah’s Home, Kogelo, Kenya
As seen in Exhibit 3, a police station has been constructed at Kogelo, with public funds.
Exhibit 3, Police Station, Kogelo, Kenya
As seen in Exhibit 4, Sarah continues to live in a small, semi-permanent house that despite recent improvements still has no running water.
Exhibit 4, Grandmother Sarah, outside her home, Kogelo, Kenya
Inside the home, the walls are decorated with a 2008 “Obama for President” bumper sticker, an old “Barack Obama for Senate” poster on which Obama wrote, “Mama Sara Habari [how are you?]” and a 2005 calendar that says, “The Kenya Wonder Boy in the US,” plus more than a dozen family photos.
Two armed security guards patrol Sarah’s house, which is adjacent to the Senator Obama Kogelo Secondary School.
The house is basic, with a concrete floor, an outside kitchen and latrines.
The only sign of modernity is the recently installed solar power unit that provides electricity for lights and a television set.
Chairs are neatly laid out around the sides of the living room, each with an embroidered cover.
The graves of Obama’s father and grandfather are in the yard around Sarah’s home. Several Obama cousins and uncles, including Sayed Obama, his father’s younger brother, also live on the compound in smaller one-room houses.
Behind the house there is a thriving maize plantation and a clump of banana trees, in addition to the giant mango trees that dominate the property.
Villagers said that Sarah, 88 years old, still goes to market where she sells her homegrown fruit and vegetables.
The market is where villagers expressed disappointment over hopes they once held that Obama would transform their lives in Kogelo.
Mary Manasse, who runs the Mama Siste Mini Shop selling staples such as bread and cow’s milk packaged in old soda bottles, told researchers she has a photograph of Obama shaking hands with her on his 2006 visit.
“Back then I was looking after 40 orphans at the orphan center,” she recalled. “We faced a desperate shortage of money, and Obama told us that he especially liked special, dedicated projects like ours and wanted to help.
“A few months later we were forced to shut down the orphan center because of lack of funds. Just a million Kenyan shillings (about $12,000) would have kept us going another year. I feel disappointed that he did not come through.”
A few stalls away, mango-seller Gladys Anyango did an impromptu Obama impression to the amusement of her fellow peddlers.
She placed her hands on her hips, gazed into the middle distance, and – mimicking Obama’s deep voice – she said: “How are you, people of Kogelo?”
Anyango’s impressions of Obama, his wife Michelle, and their two daughters, Malia and Sasha, typically produce laughter among the on-lookers.
“We have hope that he will bring electricity and build schools so the children have a good education,” Anyango continued. “Maybe he will remember his roots and look after his community in Kenya.”
As seen in Exhibit 5, the Kenyan government has also embarked on very aggressive road construction to smooth and grade the dirt road to “The Obamas.”
Exhibit 5, Road to Kogelo, Kenya
The road upgrade cost an estimated 800 million Kenyan shillings, equivalent to $9.6 million. The sum generated political charges of favoritism at a time when thousands of Kenyans are still living in makeshift camps as a result of the approximately 500,000 who fled their homes in the tribal violence that followed Odinga’s defeat in the 2007 presidential election.
As seen in Exhibit 6, a government-funded series of buildings designed as a cultural museum to honor Obama birthplace lie unfinished within the village.
Exhibit 6: Partially finished government-funded cultural museum in Kogelo, built to commemorate Obama’s ancestral home
WND has previously reported the Kenyan government in 2009 commissioned the cultural museum to honor the “birthplace of President Barack Obama” and rededicate the tomb of his father, Barack Obama Sr.
WND also reported the Kenyan government has placed Sarah on a government stipend of 50,000 Kenyan shillings ($600) per month.