‘Luos aren’t beggars’: Auma Obama explains remarks at Sauti Kuu Launch

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Sauti Kuu Foundation founder Auma Obama has defended her remarks on emancipating the Luo community from the culture of begging.

Auma said the culture of “gonya gonya” (asking for handouts) and konya konya (unshackle me) must be done away with hrough empowering the young generation.

She explained what she meant on Monday when former US President Barack Obama, her half brother, helped her launch Sauti Kuu Foundation in K'Ogelo, Siaya county.  

“The reason I built this with the support I have is that I want my community members to start realising they can actually do things for themselves ... that they can help themselves and don’t have to constantly be in a situation where they are grateful to others for what they have," she said.

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Auma was criticised online and on other platforms when she used the term handouts last Thursday at a press conference in Nairobi.

She said, however, that she will keep on reminding the world that she doesn’t want her community to be one of beggars.

“I don’t want my community to be a begging community. I’m not calling Luos beggars. I’m telling Luos that we need to start taking care of ourselves. I know it’s not difficult because we can,” she said to applause by a crowd of at least 1,000 local and international guests.

Regarding youth employment, the founder noted that the problem resulted from failure by successful people to create opportunities for others.

She said majority of youth flock to urban centres in the hope of making it, not knowing that the best opportunities "lie in the very villages they are running away from".

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“I built this centre because I asked young people 'what will make you stay' and they mentioned all the things they didn’t’ have that they thought they would find in the city," she said.

“I then explained to them that 'you won’t get them because in the city, if you don’t have money, you end up in a slum and in the slum you get nothing'."

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Auma asked like-minded Kenyans to partner with her for the initiative to be countrywide.

“Let us stop the gonya gonya syndrome ... I insist. If you are mad at me, come and join me here. Let us work together ... I will show how not to do it,” she said. 

“Don’t exploit your communities; help your communities. This is a pilot ... it’s only the beginning. We will do this somewhere else."

Sauti Kuu centre has football and basketball pitches and a training centre for people aged at least four. At the centre, people will get training in areas such as sports, mechanics, farming and welding.

More on this: [Photos] Obama, his sister Auma and guests at Sauti Kuu Foundation

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Mama Sarah Obama with her grandchild Barack Obama, who is former US President, during the launch of Sauti Kuu Foundation in K'Ogelo, Siaya county, July 16, 2018. /LAMECK BARAZA

Auma Obama with her half brother Barack, who is former US President, at Sauti Kuu Foundation in K'Ogelo, Siaya county, which they launched on July 16, 2018. /LAMECK BARAZA

Mama Sarah Obama arrives for the launch of Sauti Kuu Foundation in K'Ogelo, Siaya county, July 16, 2018. /LAMECK BARAZA

Guests at the launch of Auma Obama's Sauti Kuu Foundation in K'Ogelo, Siaya county, July 16, 2018. /LAMECK BARAZA

Auma Obama with her half brother Barack, who is former US President, at Sauti Kuu Foundation in K'Ogelo, Siaya county, which they launched on July 16, 2018. /LAMECK BARAZA

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