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Sweet Column: Obama gets royal treatment--motorcade stops Nairobi traffic.

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NAIROBI, Kenya -- Streets leading from the Jomo Kenyatta airport closed Thursday for Barack Obama's motorcade in a visit to his father's homeland, where the Illinois senator is being treated as a head of state.

Hundreds of people greeted Obama at the airport, where he arrived from Johannesburg, South Africa, aboard a U.S. Army C-20 aircraft. Obama stepped into a Land Cruiser amid visible local security and a heavy local media presence.

A little later, Obama's wife, Michelle, received flowers as she arrived at the Nairobi Serena Hotel, flying from Chicago with their two daughters, Malia, 8, and Sasha, 5, and other friends and family, to be greeted by U.S. embassy officials at the door of the hotel.

Signifying the importance of the trip to the Kenyan government, Obama starts his almost weeklong visit here meeting with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki. Mindful of potential minefields awaiting him if he becomes enmeshed in Kenyan politics, Obama's next stop is a visit to the Kenyan parliament building for a meeting with the official opposition leader.

After a lunch with members of parliament, Obama visits the site of the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy. After the bombing, the United States moved its embassy complex out of the center of the city.

The press corps covering Obama's African visit swelled from a vanful to a bus with seats for 25, with the numbers increasing because of the appeal of his story: The son of a Kenyan father and Kansan mother, Obama, who twice before has visited his father's Nyyang'oma village in the Siaya District, comes home for a third time -- as a U.S. senator, the only African American in the Senate and one who is being mentioned as a possible White House candidate, if not in 2008, then in 2012.

The African press has been reporting on the extensive preparations being made in the western area of Kenya where Obama has many members of his extended family.

Obama, his wife and daughters visit the Obama family home on Saturday, after he takes an HIV test in the western Kenyan city of Kisumu to dramatize the need for men to take responsibility in the prevention and treatment of AIDS, which is ravishing Kenya along with much of sub-Saharan Africa. In South Africa, Obama criticized administration officials for being in "denial'' in advancing policies favoring vegetable diet cure

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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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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on August 25, 2006 6:29 AM.

Kenya's costly welcome to expanding press corps was the previous entry in this blog.

Obama: Tells Kenyan President Chicago TV crews had to pay bribes to get equipment out of Nairobi airport. is the next entry in this blog.

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