Inside Kenyan School Where Everything Is Named Barack Obama

In Obama's family village, the schoolchildren are named for him.

ByArlette Saenz
July 25, 2015, 6:23 AM
PHOTO: A boy passes the gates of a school named after Senator Barack Obama in Kogelo, Western Kenya, Jan. 12, 2007.
A boy passes the gates of a school named after Senator Barack Obama in Kogelo, Western Kenya, Jan. 12, 2007.
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

NAIROBI, Kenya -- Barack Obama is a fairly unique name in the United States, but there’s one place here in Kenya where it's very common.

In the village of Kogelo, where Obama’s father was born and buried, two schools are named after the younger Obama -- the Senator Obama Kogelo Primary School and Senator Obama Kogelo Secondary School.

The schools were dedicated to Obama back when he was an Illinois senator, and his success has inspired many families to name their sons after him -- like 7-year-old Barack Obama Okoth, who attends the primary school.

PHOTO: Seven-year-old Barack Obama, named after President Barack Obama, walks at the Senator Obama primary school in Kogelo village west of Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 16, 2015.
Seven-year-old Barack Obama, named after President Barack Obama, walks at the Senator Obama primary school in Kogelo village west of Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 16, 2015.
Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

In a recent interview conducted by the BBC, nearly an entire class of 60 students at the secondary school raised their hands when asked if they’d want to be named after the president, whom many in Kenya consider their native son.

PHOTO: Seven-year-old Barack Obama Okoth, named after President Barack Obama, sits inside an empty classroom as he speaks with Reuters at the Senator Obama primary school in Nyangoma village in Kogelo, west of Kenya's capital Nairobi, June 23, 2015.
Seven-year-old Barack Obama Okoth, named after President Barack Obama, sits inside an empty classroom as he speaks with Reuters at the Senator Obama primary school in Nyangoma village in Kogelo, west of Kenya's capital Nairobi, June 23, 2015.
Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

At the primary and secondary schools, the Obama name can be seen on children’s pencils, books and even backpacks.

PHOTO: Seven-year-old Barack Obama Okoth, named after President Barack Obama, reaches for his book inside a classroom at the Senator Obama primary school in Nyangoma village in Kogelo, west of Kenya's capital Nairobi, June 23, 2015.
Seven-year-old Barack Obama Okoth, named after President Barack Obama, reaches for his book inside a classroom at the Senator Obama primary school in Nyangoma village in Kogelo, west of Kenya's capital Nairobi, June 23, 2015.
Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

The Kogelo village, along with the rest of Kenya, holds immense pride for Obama, whose ancestry lies in their country.

As he becomes the first sitting American president to visit Kenya this week, American flags are flying next to Kenyan flags and murals and billboards bearing Obama’s image pepper the nation’s capital.

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