Chicago Sun-Times
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Obama: WILL TAKE AIDS TEST IN KENYA. He says South Africa government is in denial. Runs into Ramsey Lewis in hotel lobby. Meeting with Desmond Tutu


Such incongruity this morning for CODEL OBAMA.


" One of the things I will be doing in Kenya is probably getting an AIDS test myself in front of the cameras,'' said Obama, whose celebrity in Kenya--where his father was born far exceeds his name recognition in South Africa.

Obama says that he wants to be "leading by example.''

We travel from our plush oceanfront Table Bay hotel to a shantytown in Khayelitsha Township, a horrific legacy of apartheid. I go from photographing a chance encounter Sen. Barack Obama has with jazz freat Ramsey Lewis--in South Africa for a concert in Johannesburg--to looking through a viewfinder at homehuts no bigger than yard shed in Chicago--and hearing militant South African AIDS activist Zackie Achmat denounce the policies of the U.S. Congress when it comes to putting strings on AIDS money--stressing abstainance programs instead of condom use.

I'm filing this in the few minutes I have with an internet connect before we move on--Obama is to meet with former Archbishop Desmond Tutu.


I think I speak for a lot of your readers. This media fawning over Obama is amazing albeit not surprising. He has made unbelievable inroads into the white vote and now he makes this trip to appease the black voters. This guy is SMART. Aren't you a little embarrassed though to be part of this sham?

HIV Test in front of the cameras!? Talk about leading by example! That will be great and a big challenge to most political leaders in Kenya who talk the talk and do not for a moment walk the walk.

I wish Obama would stop the grandstanding. I also wish he would have made a stop to Zimbabwe, which has to be the most corrupt African nation---or is there a hidden reason why is doesn't want to expose Robert Mugabe's reign of terror over his people?


It's great opportunity that we have Senetor Obama on our continent of Africa. I was in Chicago during his senetorial campaign, he is a great man, who keeps legacy of his family. Welcome to Africa Sen. Obama.

At this point, I expect to see "Obama for President" condoms to be handed out...good grief

I want to take Senator Obama OUT of the picture for a moment. I was in South Africa for 3 weeks back in 2002 (Johannesburg & Cape Town) living in the "plush" suburb of Johannesburg called Dainfern with a lawyer colleague's wife. We're both from Chicago - her - Northbrook - me - Hyde Park by way of Harvey - her white - me black. It was the most difficult trip of my life and I have travelled alot! I USED TO WORK FOR AN AIRLINE FOR A LIVING. We toured a township called "Langa".I often think about that trip - the pain, the poverty like nothing I've ever seen in my life (and yes the kids were listening to African American singer "Brandy" on the radio. [a smile here] I wish I could show you the beautiful artwork I brought back from the youth community center which sits in my living room. A painting made by kids using the sand of the sea. What -- a diaspora - my extended people. Langa, Oh it hurt, it hurt so bad that I walked back to the car ALONE (I didn't really think about it) all I knew was I "had to get" my sunglasses quick - because I didn't want the people to see the horror that would be reflected in my eyes - of how devastated I was - I felt I had to show respect - cover the eyes/the pain - Langa was their home and they were being so gracious to let me in for a visit. How dare I disrespect. Somehow I wasn't able to articulate all these feelings in present company. My colleague was a tourist you see, I saw myself in two ways - as a tourist and yet somehow as extended family - the view I can assure you was quite different. My colleague desired to"lunch" after the township tour - I wanted to/needed to "lie down for a while" afterwards and so (after a shouting match with my colleague about my "hyper-sensitivity" and inability to "do lunch") I went back to our "plush" hotel room after the tour, got in bed fully clothed, covered myself up under the covers and turned my head into the pillow and cried loud, bitter, distraught, and hysterical tears. Anyway I was asked by our tour guide Collin - who identified himself as a"colored" "not to forget about us" - for me this trip is the best I could possibly hope for, the first black senator, the worldwide media coverage, the taking of the AIDS test when in Africa and in the African American community our children and young people are being infected at epidemic rates - hell I dont' care what the Senator's motives are - I'm glad Senator Obama went there - it can't hurt, it can only hopefully help at least bring "focus/media attention/TV" to the area. Thank you all.

Savoya Epps
(a secretary)

for me this trip is the best I could possibly hope for, the first black senator, the worldwide media coverage, the taking of the AIDS test when in Africa and in the African American community our children and young people are being infected at epidemic rates - hell I dont' care what the Senator's motives are - I'm glad Senator Obama went there -...No Diety Obama is not the first black Senator, how quick you forget Sen. Mosley Braun. Hmmmm didnt she go to Africa too? You people are morons and this senator has done nothing here, is accomplishing nothing there.

As a black Africaan I am shocked even surprised at the thinking capacity and perhaps stereotypes of African Americans. Obama is HIV negative. He wants to take an HIV test in front of cameras which turn out negative. Tell me again how this will encourage people to go for HIV tests???

I dont know whether it is pure like of intelligence or plain ignorance but I think this has gone too far. It represents how little the west graps problems in Africa. For once, if anybody cares to listen, the reason Africans are afraid to go for tests is same reason some of my friends in Los Angeles have never gone for HIV tests - it is FEAR of result not of the test. Got it! Did you say Obama is the smartest African America? The we have a problem

I am a Luo who hales from alittle far place - Uyoma( in consideration to where the Senator Barack Obama's roots are). to me his visit is good. Whether he brings nothing the fact that the world would see how people are suffering down there is enough. Whether he has political, personal or community agenda is his problem but one thing is undoubted that somehow some people from Alego would get some help. That is what we need. Otherwise let him realise his dreams. He may not change or affect ours dreams and goals as much but may be he can let those young people who kill themselves simply coz France beats brazil in World Cup Quarter finals change focus, concentrate on education and thats good too. May he have a peaceful visit and stay in Kenya. We welcome him back again as many time as he wishes to return. Some of us will one day reach or even pass his status but only if they prepare the way ie being the role models as he is of course.

HIV test is good for him especially now that he is coming to do it in Kenya particularly Kisumu. Definately he is negative of course like i am too so we can go infront of all the world cameras and have the test coz we know what the outcome would be. Nway, let him also show the world whatever result would outcome such test. However, one question i beseeech him to ask himself: what is he trying to show to those who are already HIV +. will they take it lightly. if they do thank God.

Great, Eloquent and witty. Obama is a great inspiration to Kenya and I expected him to feel very great when he was going round the city of Nairobi yesterday as he was laying a wreath at the August 7 memorial park. I can confirm that Obama is at home when he took a minute to talk to his fellow countrymen. Obama go for gold jakogelo.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on August 21, 2006 6:53 AM.

Sweet Column: A humbling visit to Mandela's cell was the previous entry in this blog.

Tutu: Touts Obama for president is the next entry in this blog.

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