In a visit to Africa scheduled later this month, President Barack Obama will be welcomed by a continent that is disappointed in his efforts, especially a village in Kenya, a place that the president’s late father called home and is now buried.
Obama made a visit to Kogelo, Kenya, where his father, a Kenyan government economist who died in a car accident in 1982, is buried and wrote about it in his 1995 book, "Dreams from My Father." Since then, the fame of Obama being called the “Son of Africa” has worn down.
"We thought the American government could at least bring some assistance to the area," said Stephen Okumu Obewa, a teacher in Kogelo village who works at Senator Barack Obama Primary School, named before Obama reached the White House.
"Maybe he is interested somehow but we are not aware," he said in a scruffy school with many broken chairs and desks.
High expectations in Africa were set when Obama became president. Now, Africans are questioning why the 44th president has not made Africa more of a priority in his two terms in office.
"With his election, there was this huge euphoria and high hopes that the U.S.-Africa relationship would see substantive improvements and the U.S. would give more attention to Africa," said David Zounmenou, a research fellow at the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa. "But the record is very weak."
Past presidents have made an impact on Africa with George W. Bush funding HIV/AIDS treatment across the continent and Bill Clinton, who signed a law which sharply reduced trade restrictions on imports from 35 African states. Obama has continued both initiatives, but has yet to make one of his own.
"My hope is that we can deliver a message that the U.S. is a strong partner not just for Kenya, but for Sub-Saharan Africa generally," Obama said last week. He said he hoped to build on progress made in health, education and counterterrorism, and to encourage democracy and reducing corruption.
U.S. officials say the perception Obama has ignored Africa is unfair. They point to U.S. efforts to contain the Ebola virus in West Africa and a $7 billion continent-wide initiative to expand electricity supply that was launched in 2013.
"To me, he's not like an African man. He doesn't even have a building or a business here," said Calvine Rachuonyo, 28, who drives a motorcycle taxi in Kisumu, the nearest big city to Obama's father's western Kenyan home village.
Obama will visit Kenya and Ethiopia later in July, his third major trip to Sub-Saharan Africa after traveling to Ghana in 2009 and to Tanzania, Senegal and South Africa in 2011. Obama would not visit Kogelo, and that he will instead address the Kenyan people at a Nairobi stadium on July 26, according to U.S. Ambassador Robert Godec.
But Kogelo residents are still preparing just in case Obama does turn up, including sprucing up the grave site of the president's father.
"The gate is always open for Barack, day and night," said Mashart Onyango, who lives on the family compound.