The much anticipated return of the son of the soil finally broke forth on Friday 24th July at 2002 hours East African time, when Air Force One touched down at the JKIA where tens of journalists, both local and international were eagerly waiting to capture that moment when the most powerful person on Earth, the president of the United States of America, Barrack Hussein Obama was going to step on Kenyan soil, being the first sitting US president to do so.
It was a sigh of relief for millions of Kenyans especially those who live in Nairobi, for Obama to step out of that huge, magnificient airbus, one of its kind, since the Nairobians had already been held hostage in their own city for hours waiting for the arrival of the US President.
Of course, president Obama was visiting Kenya for the sixth Global Entrepreneurship Summit, the first to be held in sub-saharan Africa and the second to be held in Africa after the third which was held in Morroco last year. This three day event was going to mark a turning point in the entrepreneurial history of Kenya and Africa as a whole. Kenya has been greatly described as the gate to Africa arising in technological and entrepreneurial advancement and this was her time to launch into that arena.
As many were glued to their Tv screen to witness this historic event, there was a team which had analyzed Obama’s visit before it actually happened, ‘fought many battles’ to make it happen, prepared the avenue on which Obama was going to ride on and also spread a proper ground for him to tread upon while in Kenya. This is the social media team.
Ranging from facebook, twitter, Instagram, blogs, websites and such like platforms, the social media in Kenya was a buzz of activity as teams such as #KOT (KenyansOnTwitter) widely shared information using different hashtags to describe Obama’s visit, the preparations, the actual events during the GES as well as antics from the sidelines.
In today’s world, with the high level of technological advancement in communication especially in the mobile industry, Hashtags have become the norm in which information is shared, since they easily identify information pieces and make it to flow very fast as well as bringing similar information together.
During Obama’s visit to Kenya, hashtags were widely used in the different social media platforms and they proved to be powerful tools of impact in the communication industry in today’s era.
Nairobi Governor Dr. Evans Kidero initiated a beautification process for the city of Nairobi weeks before the arrival of POTUS (President of the United States) in the country. This project estimated at a cost of Kshs. 180 Million attracted a myriad of comments from many online users who used the hashtag #kiderograss. Comments varied from questioning the large amount of money allocated for the work compared to the quality of the work delivered, the time in which the grass was planted and its ability to grow within days before the arrival of POTUS.
@LLoperioMUSA No one is under pressure like the #kiderograss which should grow in days.
After POTUS left the country, this trend still continued with many saying that #kiderogras was no longer under pressure to grow. Others wanted a proper account for the money allocated for this project. This hashtag was frequently used alongside #NowThatObamaIsGone after president Obama left the country.
This is one of the trends that did well and trended for a long period of time in the month of July with many online users very excited that President Obama was visiting Kenya as the first sitting president of the US. It was described as a historic event and one which would change the world’s perspective about Kenya. Many blew the trumpet that Obama was not only visiting Kenya for the Global Entrepreneurial Summit but was also visiting his father’s homeland where he would interact and mingle with his African family.
Powerful and strong messages that Obama delivered during the GES at UN headquarters at Gigiri were posted online alongside this hashtag.
@JamesPatie Jubilee was electes, support it – Obama tells Opposition #ObamaReturns.
Obama’s call for youth and women empowerment and his enthusiasm for the next generation was widely spread via the social media platforms via this trend.
#GES2015 & #KenyaMeansBusiness
These hashtags were primarily used to point out some of the key highlights that came up during the Global Entrepreneurial Summit which was hosted by our president Uhuru Kenyatta and President Barrack Obama. In this summit young Kenyan entrepreneurs had a chance to pitch their ideas before potential investors from across the globe.
The President of the United States was visiting Kenya to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit and also for bilateral talks with president Uhuru Kenyatta.
America’s Cable News Network experienced the wrath of team KOT –Kenyans on Twitter, as it is famously known, after it aired a story that seemed to paint Kenya negatively. CNN cited that president Obama was not only visiting his father’s homeland but also going to a ‘hotbed of terror’. This is not the first time that CNN is carrying negative stories about Kenya as the same was experienced in 2013 during the general elections.
: ‘Foreigners’ will never tell the African story !
However, Kenyans were quick to criticize and highly respond to CNN. This even attracted the attention of other international news casts like The Independent and the BBC
The buzz did not end without the criticizing of the local media stations and outlets for highly concentrating on the sidelines of Obama’s visit rather than highlighting more on the GES and its importance to Kenyans.
After the whole buzz, Airforce One took off to Ethiopia where Obama was going to address the African Union summit, and it was time to go back to the daily routines and domestic affairs, now that Obama was gone.