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Is former US president Barack Obama relocating to Kenya? No, it's an April Fools’ Day joke

IN SHORT: There is no evidence that former US president Barack Obama will move to Kenya in June 2023. The article was meant as a joke, but some social media users believed it.

President Obama to Relocate to Kenya in June!!reads the heading of a Facebook post published 4 April 2023.

The post goes on: “Former US President Barack Obama is resettling in Kenya for at least a year as Special Envoy for US Diplomacy (SED), a deployment which he said ‘makes me truly grateful as I pay tribute to the land of my father- and forefathers’.”

The post claims that Obama’s move is an initiative of the US senate, “which is increasingly exploring the possibility of sending retired Presidents to countries of their ancestry”. 

Obama was born in the US state of Hawaii. His mother, Ann Dunham, was a US citizen. His father, Barack Hussein Obama I, was a Kenyan economist born and raised in Kogelo, a village in the western Kenyan county of Siaya

Similar claims about Obama relocating have been made here and here.

But is the former US president moving to Kenya? We checked.


Originated as an April Fools’ Day joke 

We searched Obama’s website and social media pages but found nothing about the move.

There was no reliable news report from any credible media organisation that Obama was planning to move to his father's homeland, even temporarily. 

A Google search for “Special Envoy for US Diplomacy” returned articles published on 1 April 2023. 

The claim was first published on 1 April by the Standard, a leading Kenyan newspaper. The article said that incumbent US president Joe Biden had nominated Obama as a special envoy for US diplomacy.

But at the very end of the story there was an important warning: “Disclaimer: This was an April Fools Day Story. GOTCHA!!!”

April Fools’ Day is celebrated on 1 April. 

This is not the first time a joke has been taken out of context and shared as misinformation. Africa Check has debunked several, including here and here.

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