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A billboard welcomes Obama to Nairobi.
AP Photo/Ben Curtis
Karibu Obama.

Kenyans have turned Obama’s most inspirational speeches into ringtones

By Lily Kuo

Kenyans are preparing to welcome US president Barack Obama in many ways, including Obama-inspired clothing, restaurants, hotels, and hairdos, but the most fitting may be with ringtones.

An estimated 32 million Kenyans, almost 80% of the population, own mobile phones and use them for everything from buying groceries and transferring money to tracking crop prices and managing their health. In the weeks leading up to Obama’s visit, residents of his father’s homeland have been downloading excerpts of his speeches to play when their phones ring.

The Obama ringtones range from inspirational quotes to rousing patriotic speeches about America that could apply to Kenya as well, a country trying to harness its economic potential in the face of political flux and security threats. Here are some of over a dozen of those ringtones being sold by Safaricom’s platform for add-ons, Skiza:

“My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin- roof shack. His father, my grandfather, was a cook, a domestic servant to the British. But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son.” (Listen to it here.)

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” (Listen to it here.)

“My parents shared not only an improbable love; they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or ‘blessed,’ believing that in a tolerant America, your name is no barrier to success. They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren’t rich, because in a generous America you don’t have to be rich to achieve your potential.” (Listen to it here.)

“If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.” (Listen to it here.)

“There’s new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair. The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.” (Listen to it here.)