World Obama's ancestral village misses cashing in on him

22:51  02 september  2017
22:51  02 september  2017 Source:   USA TODAY SPORTS

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Obama ' s struggling ancestral Kenya village misses him — and cashing in on his presidency. Residents in Kogelo, Kenya, say students have had to drop out of school and donor-funded health clinics have closed due to lack of funding.

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A vendor selling flags, caps and T-shirts, and wearing a shirt showing President Barack Obama with words in Luo reading © AP A vendor selling flags, caps and T-shirts, and wearing a shirt showing President Barack Obama with words in Luo reading "Father has reached home", sells his wares at an event attended by Sarah Obama, the step-grandmother of the former president, in her hometown of Kogelo, Kenya, on July 18, 2015.

KOGELO, Kenya — Barack Obama’s ancestral village here laments his exit from the White House — because that also caused an exit of tourists and financing for a community now wringing its hands over the future.

Elders recently gathered at the local chief's camp to discuss how to handle the rapid drop-off in Obama-spurred visitors, donations and other benefits the 44th president of the United States brought to the place where his father was born.

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“We didn’t imagine life will be this bad without Obama,” said Willys Otieno, 45, a village. “The white people have left the village with their money. There are no more tourists coming here, and we (still) have to pay bills for everything.”

Students have dropped out of local private schools because they’ve lost scholarships funded by the Mama Sarah Obama Foundation, the Barack H. Obama Foundation and the Barack Obama Secondary School and Primary School. A few donor-funded health clinics in the region have shut down because of a lack of funding.

“Life changed early this year when Obama retired," said Grace Anyango, 16, a student who has depended on a scholarship to attend the Obama Secondary School. "I have been out of school for lack of fees. My friends have also dropped out.”

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Everyone around the world wanted a piece of Barack Obama , including Kenyans, many of whom claimed him as “our son in the US.” This was by virtue of Barack’ s father, Barack Obama Sr., having his ancestral roots in Kogelo village in the western part of Kenya.

Barack Obama ’ s ratings may be lower than ever in America, but the US President can do wrong in his ancestral Irish townland of Moneygall, where business built around him is thriving. Purtill sampled the offering at the Barack Obama Plaza and at other locations in the village for herself.

The former president's office had no comment about Kogelo's plight.

Obama did not directly fund the charities. But his family here used his name and high office to raise money and assist the poor in this village of 3,000 residents, 250 miles east of the capital, Nairobi.

During Obama's candidacy and eight years in office, a steady stream of journalists, tourists and others flocked to sleepy Kogelo to discover the birthplace of Barack Obama Sr., who died in 1982, and to meet the president's step-grandmother, Mama Sarah. The village provided a backdrop to scenes in Obama’s best-selling 1995 autobiography Dreams from My Father.

The Kenyan government paved roads, extended electricity and water lines and built a police station in the village in response to all the attention.

Donors also rushed to help the village build an educational and health system. Many residents came to depend on charities driven by buzz around Obama’s presidency. Some residents even received grants from well-wishers to build new homes.

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Now Obama's step-grandmother regularly decries the pathetic state of the Barack Obama schools since her grandson left office, blaming lack of maintenance. “We need to support them, as they will act as reservoirs for local brains,” she said.

Nicholas Rajula, Obama’s cousin and a family spokesman who owns a resort in the village, agreed that his famous relative’s departure from the White House has really affected his family and village.

“Life is completely different here since Obama left office,” Rajula said. “It has really affected my business, because there are no international guests coming to the village.”

Some still see an opportunity for the village, because the ex-president’s half-brother, Malik Obama, was a vocal booster of Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, Rajula said.

“We are expecting President Trump to reward Malik for his overwhelming support he accorded him,” he said, amid cheers from nearby villagers. “When he (Trump) gives Malik a good job, then the village will still benefit.”

That seems doubtful. The village might receive more help from Auma Obama, the former president's half-sister, who has helped raise funds for constructing a university on a 50-acre plot of land in the village.

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Several kissed Obama as he shook hands. John Donovan, a shopkeeper, funeral director and farmer who owns the Obama ancestral home, said he scrubbed the place for Obama ’ s brief tour. "You look a little like my grandfather," Obama said to one man. "We may be related to him as well.

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According to Rajula, the foundation is seeking to build a world-class university named after Obama, plus an early childhood development center to assist widows in Kogelo.

Mama Sarah has asked Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to visit Kogelo and lay a foundation stone for what is tentatively being called Barack Obama University College. “The university will serve all Kenyans regardless of their political, social and tribal inclinations,” she said.

Even if it gets built, Otieno doesn't believe the university will keep the village from sliding back into the rampant poverty that prevailed before Obama was president.

“We don’t need structures. We need free health care and our children to go to school,” he said. “We want to see white people coming here like it used to be when our son was president."

More: Violence erupts in Kenya after losing candidate charges presidential election 'hacked'

Marchand says he won't have any issues with Pastrnak cashing in .
Contracts can sometimes cause tension between teammates in NHL dressing rooms, but Brad Marchand says any deal David Pastrnak signs won't create any ill will. “We all want to see each other be successful,” Marchand told the Boston Herald's Matt Kalman on Monday. “He had a great year last year so we’ll be very happy for him with whatever he ends up getting. The contract that he signs, (Pastrnak is) going to make a lot of money, he’s a phenomenal player, he’s 21 years old, he’s going to have a long career. We all like to see each other be successful and do well and that’s the way the game goes." Pastrnak's agent, J.P.

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