Obama departs for Kenya, returning to his father's homeland

By Jeff Mason

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama departed for Kenya on Thursday, his first trip to his father's homeland as U.S. president, kicking off a swing through Africa that will also include a stop in Ethiopia.

Obama, the first black U.S. president, is the son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas. He traveled to Kenya as a U.S. senator but has not gone since winning the White House.

Obama is expected to meet with family members while in Nairobi, but he will not be traveling to the village most closely associated with his family name.

The trip will focus otherwise on security and economic initiatives as the president shores up his legacy on the African continent.

Obama will also do some lobbying of lawmakers who are coming along for the visit. The president is seeking support from Congress for a deal to curb Iran's nuclear program.

The White House released a list of 10 lawmakers flying with Obama on Air Force One including nine Democrats and one Republican, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona.

The Democrats are Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Representative Karen Bass of California, Representative G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, Representative Barbara Lee of California, Representative Gregory Meeks of New York, Representative Charles Rangel of New York, and Representative Terri Sewell of Alabama.

On the return flight to the United States, a second group of 10 Democratic representatives will join Obama, the White House said.


(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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