Kenyans ‘took over’ the Bank of America Marathon in Chicago. In a dinner prepared for the athletes before the Sunday marathon, Kenyans sat together in the Continental Ballroom at the Hilton in down town Chicago and did what Kenyans do: Eat! Those who attended the Marathon dinner enjoyed Ugali, sukuma wiki, mukimwo, chapatti, beef and chicken stew, and the legendary Kenya tea and coffee. Dickson Chumba, Sammy Kitwara, Sammy Ndungu, Hon. Wesley Korir, Lucas Rotich, Chris Mutai, and Florence Kiplagat
The guest at the dinner was Marsat Obama the auntie to the president of the United States. The warmth of the Kenyan Diaspora who came by the dozens to wish the athletes success openly moved the soft spoken and gracious guest. She apologized on behalf of Mama Sarah Obama who could not make it to the event due to weakness of the body. Grand Ma is in her 90s and though she wanted to attend the event, her age did not allow. Marsat challenged Kenyans to help in the efforts of her mother who through SOWO and mama Sara Obama Children Foundation is working with orphans and widows in Siaya County. Faith Chemutai Chepkwony the CEO of Kenya Marathon Dinner Group presented Mama Sarah with a plaque that will be presented yearly at the dinner on her behalf. The dinner started 17 years ago.
The guest speaker at the event was Kiambu County’s Deputy Governor Gerald Githinji who was accompanied by his lovely wife Elizabeth whose foundation is helping the girl child in Kenya. He called on Americans to invest in Kenya calling Kenya a “hotbed” of opportunity and grace. Mrs. Alice Chesire of the Reuben and Alice Chesire foundation spoke about her foundation and challenged those present to never forget their homeland. She called on the guests to Join Reuben and Alice Chesire foundation in their effort to transform communities in Kenya.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sent an official letter, which was read by Kenneth Bennett who used to work at the White House. In the letter, he brought greetings from US president Barack Obama who wished Kenyans the best in the Marathon. Kenyans won the Chicago Marathon with Dickson Chumba and Sammy Kitwara taking the 2 top positions. Wesley Korir the Mp from Cheragani in the Rift valley was among the top 5. At the dinner, Wesley spoke passionately about the doping problems Kenya is facing; He argued that this issue needed to be addressed by Kenyans wholisitically. He said Kenyans should not be judged on the sins of a few. The Rev. Christopher Arap Mutai of Bibilia TV Network and Pastor Shadrack Kathumo of Ushirika tabernacle church said prayers.
The event was graced by the presence of Senator Jacqueline Collins who praised the dinner organizers for bringing people of all races together for a fellowship of friendship.
After the dinner event, the Deputy Governor was joined by Marsat Obama and the Kenya guests to celebrate the Birthday of the legendary civil rights leader Jessie Jackson who turned 74yrs. At his Rainbow coalition office in Chicago’s south Side, Rev. Jackson was moved by the Kenyan Delegation. In his speech he spoke highly of Kenya and was openly moved when the Kenyans decorated him with a Maasai Blanket.
Bobby Rush, US representative for the 1st District and Jesus Garcia who run Against Rahm Emmanuel in Chicago Mayoral election met the Kenyans. The Deputy Governor spent a week in Chicago meeting Kenyans in the Diaspora and speaking to American Businesses. He challenged them to invest in Kiambu County and Kenya at large.
Professor Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD) of EMG gave the invocation and used the marathon to direct people to stand on the side of those with different talents: To encourage others as we ourselves have also been encouraged and cheered on in life.
Timothy K. Nyenjeri. Senior Associate HTBluff Associates. An EMG Consortium. For Diaspora Messenger.