Release Date: May 19, 2009
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga will make his first trip to the U.S. since the election of President Barack Obama on Saturday, May 23, when he will make remarks and answer questions from the media from 9-11 a.m. at the Top of the Falls Restaurant on Goat Island in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and then give the University at Buffalo Law School commencement address 3 p.m. that day.
Odinga, known for his candid views on human rights in Kenya and other developing African nations, visits Western New York at a time when Obama, -- whose father was Kenyan -- and his administration are watching Kenya closely to see if the implementation of that country's National Accord can bring about a lasting end to 2007-post election violence.
UB Law School Dean Makau Mutua, a fellow Kenyan native who has worked closely with Odinga to promote the advancement of democracy and human rights in the East African nation, has called the prime minister, "the most electrifying politician in Kenya and regarded as the center of gravity of that country's politics."
Odinga served six years as a political detainee -- the longest anyone in Kenya has been imprisoned because of opposition to that country's government. He will speak on governance and democratic transition in Africa when he addresses graduating law school students at 3 p.m. in UB's Center for the Arts on the university's North (Amherst) Campus.
As the candidate of the new Orange Democratic Movement, Odinga ran for president of Kenya for the second time in 2007. Following the disputed general election, a coalition government was formed, and Odinga became Kenya's second prime minister
The Law School also will confer honorary degrees on Irene Khan, the first woman and Muslim to head Amnesty International, the world's largest human rights organization, and J. Mason Davis Jr., a practicing attorney and UB Law School graduate who played a key role in the desegregation of Alabama in the 1960s.
Press credentials for the morning press conference and afternoon commencement can be obtained by calling Charles Anzalone in UB's Office of University Communications at (716) 645-5000, ext 1412, or 716-440-8824 onsite.