By Njeri Mwangi
I first saw and met Auma Obama during the Nakuru Story Moja Festival an event that took place towards the end of the month of May at the Kenya National Library in the county.
As a journalist, then attached at Egerton Radio, I had been sent to cover the event in which Auma would address Kenyans and perhaps shed light on the coming of his brother, US President Barrack Obama, to the country (which she didn’t as she wanted the visit not to overshadow the Storymoja event).
Being two months away at the time, the Obama visit had not attracted much attention. Partly because of this, the presence of his sister at the event did not cause any ripples among journalists. After all, we knew little about Auma Obama. On several occasions I thus tried to dodge the sessions she was facilitating. I felt like they did not have much “newsworthiness”.
Finally, one day a colleague of mine managed to convince me to attend one of the sessions. We found Auma playing and dancing freely with children from various primary schools in the country that had attended the festivals. She could dance to the songs they were singing and seemed so comfortable interacting with the little ones.
At the time the identity she would later have, especially after the ride in ‘The Beast’ and the close contact she had with Obama during his July visit were nowhere to be seen, even detected. Or maybe my colleague did, for she made sure she took a photo with her as I shied away. It was a “non issue” for me at the time.
Then came the evening of July 24, after Air Force One touched down at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and it downed on me who Auma was. She was more than the lady I had found dancing with children at the library encouraging them to develop a reading culture. She is a close sister to one of the most influential if not most powerful men in the world.
It is at that point that it dawned on me that I should have a closer interest in her – listen to her more and even take the photo I ran away from. It is not that I wanted to have a snip of her fame, but yes, I discovered much later that she was an influential leader in her own self. The more the reason why I should have drank from the pot of her wisdom.
But what even struck me most about her is her humility, perhaps this is the reason why there wasn’t much talk about her during the event. It’s a humility very few people hardly posses. Many a times you see people making stunts out of the status of their close relatives and friends. And I dare to ask how many times have we made people suffer or even made people take note of our presence just because our so and so is the head of a certain organization?
I think we can learn a few lessons from her on remaining true to our identities and how not to find our own spaces without riding on those of our influential relatives and or friends.
*Njeri Mwangi is a student at Laikipia University studying Communication and Media.