NAIROBI, Kenya — U.S. Sen. Barack Obama arrived in Kenya Thursday where he will take a public HIV test this weekend at a remote clinic in an effort to promote the need for safe sex in a country where 700 people die on average per day from HIV/AIDS.
Obama, the only African-American in the U.S. Senate, will take the test at a clinic near the western village of Nyangoma-Kogelo, where his father - a goat herder who went on to study at Harvard - grew up and his grandmother still lives, a U.S. embassy official told The Associated Press.
Although there have been recent declines in the amount of people infected with the virus in Kenya, two million people out of a total population of 33 million are infected. Around 1.5 million people have died from the disease - and western parts of the country are the worst hit.
The senator, who was traveling with his wife Michelle and daughters Malia, 8, and Sasha, 4, was greeted at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi by U.S. Ambassador Michael E. Ranneberger, the embassy official added.
Obama who will spend six days in the country, will hold meetings with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and foreign affairs officials before visiting the site where the U.S. embassy was bombed in 1998 in Nairobi, killing 248 people. He will then continue on to Djibouti and Chad.
Kenyans in his ancestral village have been preparing for weeks for his return, cutting the grass and leveling out the dirt road that leads to the house his grandmother Sarah Hussein has lived in all her life, local newspapers reported.
Aides said Wednesday that Obama had scrapped plans to visit Congo and Rwanda at the request of the U.S. Embassy in Congo because of postelection fighting in that country's capital, Kinshasa.
Obama began an African tour Sunday with a visit to Nelson Mandela's former prison at Robben Island. He has met with black businessmen, AIDS victims and U.S. Embassy officials, among others.
He paid tribute to the South Africans' fight for freedom, saying they taught lessons to the world and helped inspire his own political career.
Barack grew up in Hawaii with his American mother after his parents divorced. He has visited Kenya three times, most recently in the early 1990s to introduce his fiancee to his Kenyan family.
The senator's father first worked as a university lecturer in Uganda after studying economics at Harvard University. He then worked in Kenya's private sector before joining the treasury department, where he became a senior economist.
He died in car crash in 1982, leaving three wives, six sons and a daughter. All his children except Malik live in Britain or the United States. One of the brothers died in 1984.
Obama's paternal grandfather, Onyango Hussein Obama, was one of the first Muslim converts in the village.
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