Obama's emotional trip to Kenya is quiet diplomacy in action.

Photo by Tony Karumba/Getty Images.

The legacy of Barack Obama and Kenya will be forever intertwined.

The East African country is the birthplace of Obama's father and the source of a conspiracy theory about Obama's own birthplace that the president has had to spend way too much time refuting.

It's also a place where Obama is making a real impact.


On July 15, Obama stopped by Kogelo, where his sister-in-law Auma Obama opened Sauti Kuu — a youth sports and training center that aims to help children "become self-reliant mentally, socially, and financially."

Photo by Tony Karumba/Getty Images.

Back in 2015, Obama said that returning to Kenya after his presidency might actually be more effective, "because I can actually get outside of a hotel room or a conference center."

And he has a point.

Obama was able to mingle with several of the kids at the Sauti Kuu resource center. But he was also there to help the country heal after a tumultuous, contested election.

He's on a journey that carries a larger message of hope.

It's a big deal any time Obama visits Kenya. And while this visit was described as "low-key," he was also there doing some very important work.

Kenya has been divided over a contested 2017 election. The country's current President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga agreed in March 2018 to work together after months of political fighting.

Obama is meeting with both leaders during his visit to help facilitate a peaceful and lasting political solution.

Though Obama has been mostly quiet about the visit, Kenyatta posted about their visit on Twitter, adding several pictures of the two men meeting.

On July 18, Obama heads to South Africa to mark the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's birth and to meet with 200 African children who are working with the Obama Foundation. Not bad for a low-key trip.

Obama is showing how quiet diplomacy is something we could use more of right now.

President Teddy Roosevelt once famously said of his approach to international diplomacy, "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." What many may not know is Roosevelt actually cited the quote as a West African proverb that he picked up during his travels before becoming president.

In many ways, it also captures Obama's approach to exerting his influence in the world. Instead of lecturing the world, he's helping empower Kenya's youth and offering his support to healing the nation's political divide.

Right now, the world of politics seems to be dominated by those with the loudest voices. But Obama, time and again, shows that the power of diplomacy rooted in respect and trust can indeed help someone go far.

More
via Twitter / Soraya

There is a strange right-wing logic that suggests when minorities fight for equal rights it's somehow a threat to the rights already held by those in the majority or who hold power.

Like when the Black Lives Matter movement started, many on the right claimed that fighting for black people to be treated equally somehow meant that other people's lives were not as valuable, leading to the short-lived All Lives Matter movement.

This same "oppressed majority" logic is behind the new Straight Pride movement which made headlines in August after its march through the streets of Boston.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

For most of us, the hypothetical question of whether we would stick with a boyfriend or girlfriend through the trials of cancer and the treatments is just that – a hypothetical question. We would like to think we would do the right thing, but when Max Allegretti got the chance to put his money where mouth is, he didn't hesitate for a second.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via bfmamatalk / facebook

Where did we go wrong as a society to make women feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public?

No one should feel they have the right to tell a woman when, where, and how she can breastfeed. The stigma should be placed on those who have the nerve to tell a woman feeding her child to "Cover up" or to ask "Where's your modesty?"

Breasts were made to feed babies. Yes, they also have a sexual function but anyone who has the maturity of a sixth grader knows the difference between a sexual act and feeding a child.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / JLo

The Me Too movement has shed light on just how many actresses have been placed in positions that make them feel uncomfortable. Abuse of power has been all too commonplace. Some actresses have been coerced into doing something that made them uncomfortable because they felt they couldn't say no to the director. And it's not always as flagrant as Louis C.K. masturbating in front of an up-and-coming comedian, or Harvey Weinstein forcing himself on actresses in hotel rooms.

But it's important to remember that you can always firmly put your foot down and say no. While speaking at The Hollywood Reporter's annual Actress Roundtable, Jennifer Lopez opened up about her experiences with a director who behaved inappropriately. Laura Dern, Awkwafina, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o, and Renee Zellweger were also at the roundtable.

Keep Reading Show less
popular