US Senator Christopher Coons' History in Kenya

  • The University of Nairobi (UoN) is known for churning out top talent not only locally but also internationally, such as US Senator Christopher Coons from Delaware State, having passed through the institution in 1984.

    He joined UoN through St. Lawrence University's Kenya Semester Program and took political science classes before returning to the U.S. to work for the Coalition for the Homeless in New York.

    Coons, whose connections with Kenya nearly cost him victory when his opponents questioned his commitment to the US, told American politicians that his Kenyan experience helped shape his political views.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta and US Senator Christopher Coons at Statehouse

    In a college paper article, the senator wrote the source of his conversion from Republican to Democrat was his trip to Kenya.

    His rivals used the article to claim that Coons had confessed the Kenyan trip converted him into a Marxist.

    He responded by explaining that his experience opened his eyes to grinding poverty in Africa and was shocked by the dismissive attitude the wealthy had for the poor.

    "In many ways, Kenya made me who I am. What I saw in the slums of Mathare and Kibera on one hand and Karen and Westlands on the other made me appreciate the consequences of an unequal world," he rebutted.

    He returned to the country in 2012 and made headlines after he addressed Kenyans at a national prayer breakfast meeting in fluent Swahili.

    Asante sana kwa chakula kizuri. Nimefurahi kurudi Kenya. Mimi ni mwanafunzi … nilikuwa University of Nairobi 1984. Ingawa miaka mingi kupita, mimi bado katika upendo wa moyo wangu kwa ajili kwa Kenya”

    (Thank you very much for the delicious food. I am glad to be back in Kenya. I was a student at the University of Nairobi back in 1984. Although many years have passed, I still love Kenya very much from the bottom of my heart).

    ​ President Uhuru Kenyatta with US Senators Kristen Gillibrand and Christopher Coons at State House ​