Obama in Africa: I'm proud to be first Kenyan-American president

  • U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn hold a news conference after their meeting at the National Palace in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 27, 2015.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama receives flowers from children as he arrives aboard Air Force One at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,July 26, 2015. 
  • U.S. President Barack Obama departs for Ethiopia aboard Air Force One from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi July 26, 2015.
  • Kenyan traditional dancers singing as they wait to entertain U.S. President Barrack Obama (not pictured) upon his arrival to board Air Force One for his departure to Ethiopia, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya, July 26, 2015. His departure comes after his three-day visit to Kenya, which was his first visit to his father’s homeland since becoming president. He promoted Africa as a hub for global economic growth and addressed issues on terrorism, economic recovery and human rights.
  • President Barack Obama waves as he arrives to deliver a speech at Safaricom Indoor Arena, Sunday, July 26, 2015, in Nairobi.
  • Members of the audience hold up their cameras and phones during a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama at the Safaricom Indoor Arena in Nairobi on July 26, 2015.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama (L) puts his arm around Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta as they depart after their joint news conference after their meeting at the State House in Nairobi July 25, 2015.
  • Members of a family in Kibera neighbourhood, Nairobi, follow on tv the speech of U.S. President Barack Obama at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit during his four-day East Africa state visit, on July 25, 2015.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama and Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta hold a joint news conference after their meeting at the State House in Nairobi on July 25, 2015.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama reviews a Kenya Defence Forces honour guard during a visit to the State House in Kenya’s capital Nairobi on July 25, 2015.
  • People cheer as the motorcade of President Barack Obama passes by on the way to deliver a speech at Safaricom Indoor Arena, on July 26, 2015, in Nairobi. 
  • US President’s step-grandmother, Mama Sarah, attends a state dinner hosted by Kenyan President at the State House in Nairobi on July 25, 2015.
  • A Secret Service agent keeps watch as U.S. President Barack Obama lays a wreath at Memorial Park on the former site of the U.S. Embassy, where al Qaeda bombed the compound in 1998 killing more than 200 people, in Nairobi on July 25, 2015.
  • People walk past a graffiti representing US President Barack Obama on a wall in Nairobi on July 25, 2015.
  • The Kenya Air Force military band plays prior to the arrival of U.S. President Barack Obama at State House in Nairobi, Kenya on July 25, 2015.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama stands next to Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta as the Kenya Air Force military band passes by, at State House in Nairobi, Kenya on July 25, 2015.
  • President Barack Obama looks at a solar power exhibit during a tour of the Power Africa Innovation Fair on July 25, 2015, in Nairobi.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama attends a private dinner with family members at his hotel restaurant after arriving in Nairobi on July 24, 2015.
  • Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta watches as President Barack Obama hugs his half-sister Auma Obama after he arrived at Kenyatta International Airport on July 24, 2015, in Nairobi, Kenya.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama receives flowers from a girl as he arrives aboard Air Force One at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on July 24, 2015.
  • Newspapers about Obama’s visit are displayed in Keynan capital Nairobi on July 24, 2015.
  • President Barack Obama waves as he arrives at Kenyatta International Airport on July 24, 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya.

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Updated

NAIROBI, Kenya — President Barack Obama spoke proudly of his Kenyan heritage before a raucous and affectionate crowd in Nairobi on Sunday.

“I am proud to be the first American president to come to Kenya, and of course I’m the first Kenyan-American to be president of the United States,” he told the packed sports hall in Nairobi. It is the time he referred to himself as such.

The president recalled his first trip at the age of 27 when he arrived at the airport and tried to find his luggage. A woman who saw his name asked if Obama was related to his father, whom she had known, Obama said.

“That was the first time my name meant something and that it was recognized,” the president said. He went on to meet “brothers, aunts and uncles … saw the graves of my grandfather and father.”

Obama’s father is buried in western Kenya.

The personal quickly gave way to the practical and political, with Obama pledging to stand by Kenya as it battles terrorism and calling on all Kenyans to stamp out corruption.

“Every shilling that’s a bribe could be put in the pockets of someone doing an honest day’s work,” he said.

He also mentioned the importance of educating women and recognizing their place in society.

“Treating women as second class citizens is a bad tradition — it’s holding you back,” he said. “Imagine if you have a team and you don’t let half of the team play — that’s stupid.”

The barriers could hardly hold back the crowds after Obama’s 45-minute speech.

After Kenya, Obama traveled to Ethiopia, which was brought to its knees in the 1980s by a famine but now has one of the fastest growth rates on the continent. 

This story originally appeared on NBCNews.com

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