By Rocky Asutsa
There were one and half Kenyans at the White House last week. Both were working, though one of them lives there, too. I was the full Kenyan.
President Barack Obama, whose father was from Kenya, walked in, and the mood in the room changed. You could see the embodiment of power and the concentration shift from people fiddling with their phones to getting a shot of the most powerful man in world. No doubt to tweet their location.
Being at the White House at that moment and seeing a man with such a humble history command such attention brought a sense of pride. Not in his Kenyan lineage, but because I was looking at a man who worked hard to get where he is regardless of the obstacles.
To be a Kenyan in the U.S. for the very first time, not visiting but working, is a lot to take in. Between running to catch the Circulator bus (the cheapest form of transport other than walking) and calling sources to seek confirmation or RSVP for events, asking strangers for directions and not really understanding the menu when eating out, I’d say my four weeks in Washington have been interesting. Covering a story at the White House has so far caped it.
In carrying out my duties I have met economists, political analysts, politicians, activists, athletes and the average guy on the street. No doubt I could have met any of these in Kenya but the difference is in the story. The difference lies in the similarities in how each of us wants to solve a problem. Make a change.
I have learned that what we focus on becomes important. Even better is going out there and creating or making the change we want to see happen.
Monday I went to visit the Kenyan embassy in D.C. Hearing Swahili spoken was calming and gave the reception area a home effect.
News that President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed Vice President William Ruto as acting president while Kenyatta appears before the International Criminal Court as a private citizen had just broken back home in Kenya. He’s accused of involvement in post-election violence in 2007 and 2008.
However, more than 7,400 miles away across the Atlantic, there are no visible ripples.
As many American men and women made and are currently making history, Kenyatta is writing his.
While I am yet to appear in history books, I will say that every day is an opportunity for people to tell their own stories. Let it be a good one.