How can I take part in an Obama speech

On a private mission: Barack Obama visits Africa

"I'm looking forward to a life after my presidency; without a large security presence around the clock," announced Barack Obama, then still President of the USA, during his 2015 speech to the African Union. He sounded euphoric: "That means I can go where I want. I can spend time with my family. And I can visit Africa more often." Nevertheless, he took it around a year and a half.

But his schedule is no less full than when he was considered the most powerful man in the world: He is currently in Kenya, his father's home country, for two days. He doesn't just want to spend time with his family, he also wants to open a sports and training center for young people on Monday that his sister Auma Obama founded. He is also planning a flying visit to Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta and the opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Visit without political motivation

"I think now is a good time for Barack Obama to come to Kenya," Martin Oloo told DW. "As a private person, he can now take part in events that interest him, mobilize investors and make his personal contribution without the whole thing appearing politically motivated," the Kenyan political analyst continued.

But politics is also on the agenda: "Obama will certainly congratulate the Kenyan politicians on having decided after the turbulent elections to put the needs of the country before their own and to work together," says Oloo. The analyst suspects that he will certainly also address the current corruption scandals in the Kenyan authorities, but certainly in one-on-one discussions with the respective parties. It is also certain that the Kenyans will receive their self-proclaimed national hero as warmly as during his presidency.

Barack Obama during his tenure meeting with young African leaders in Washington DC

What remains of the Obamamania?

When Barack Obama was sworn in as the first African-American President in 2009, the 'Obamamania' flooded the continent. African fabrics were printed with his photo, portraits of the American statesman were in the repertoire of every African artist. Africans had high expectations that their continent would become more prominent in US foreign policy, investment and development aid. After eight years in office, many Africans were disillusioned. They believed that the first US president with African roots was not doing enough for the continent.

"I give him six out of ten points for his Africa policy," said Martin Oloo. "Obama knows Africa and its problems, surely he would have done more if he had had a more conducive environment." But the economic crisis and rising unemployment in his own country, foreign policy hotspots in Afghanistan and Iraq left him little time for Africa in the first years of his presidency. He later tried to catch up: During four trips to Africa he visited seven countries - more than any other US president - and was the first incumbent US president to address the African Union. Instead of relying on humanitarian aid, he emphasized the continent's economic potential.

"Not a president for Africa, but for the USA"

"What many Africans do not understand is that Obama was not the President of Kenya or an American President for Africa, but primarily President of the United States of America," said political expert Martin Oloo. "Accordingly, he also had to represent the interests of his own country." Obama's successor Donald Trump, on the other hand, has shown little interest in Africa so far. Apart from issuing entry bans for certain African countries and calling others "bastards", he has so far hardly commented on US policy on Africa.

Portraits of Barack Obama were part of the repertoire of many African artists during his tenure

After his visit to Kenya, Barack Obama will travel to South Africa, where he will give a speech in honor of Nelson Mandela. The South African freedom fighter would be 100 years old on July 18th. Obama often stressed that Nelson Mandela had influenced him - and not just in his political career. Obama met Nelson Mandela personally before serving as US President. He gave a speech at Mandela's funeral in 2013.

In honor of Nelson Mandela

For South Africa Obama's private trip is of great symbolic value, says Andrew Feinstein, a former MP for the South African African National Congress, to which Mandela was a member: "I think there is a certain irony behind it, when you consider that Ronald Reagan Nelson Mandela publicly as a terrorist, "said Feinstein in an interview with DW. "The fact that the first African-American president is now coming to South Africa to honor Mandela's legacy is very important in retrospect." The planned meeting between Obama and the incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is also symbolic. "In doing so, he is to some extent publicly showing his appreciation for Ramaphosa and the change that is taking place in South Africa after the dark years under Jacob Zuma are over."

Barack Obama speaking at Nelson Mandela's funeral

At the end of his trip to Africa, Barack Obama will speak in front of around 200 scholarship holders from his own foundation, whom he has invited to a workshop in Johannesburg. The aim of the program: to train and promote young African leaders. "Obama is an important role model for many young Africans," says Kenyan Martin Oloo. "An educated man with integrity and good manners - this is how an exemplary political leader should appear."

Collaboration: Daniel Pelz