Allison Payne: American Journalist Who Traced Obama’s Kenyan Roots

Allison Payne visiting an orphanage during her time in Kenya.
  • Former US President Barrack Obama is arguably hailed as one of the greatest Presidents during his two terms at the White House.  

    His influence and leadership capabilities transcended the world and proved to all that leadership could be actualised without the prerogative notion of colour. 

    The first African-American President stepped into the White House in 2008 – the first US President whose roots traced all the way back to Kenya. 

    Allison Payne visiting an orphanage during her time in Kenya.

    The credit of the amazing discovery is given to an American journalist, Allison Payne, who at the age of 25, travelled to Kenya to trace Obama’s roots. 

    So, who is this sensational journalist who travelled across the world at a tender age to cover such a groundbreaking story?

    Born in 1964 in Richmond, Virginia, Payne and her family moved to Detroit, Michigan to attend Renaissance High School and University of Detroit Mercy. 

    With a passion for journalism at such a tender age, she joined World’s Greatest Network (WGN) at the age of 25 in the 1990s. During this time, she established herself quickly by covering major stories across the globe.

    At the time, she travelled to Kenya to trace Obama’s family and his roots. The journalist documented her time in Kenya showering her praise over the culture and spirit embodied by Kenyans. She also took time to visit orphanages and care for the sick.

    “The Kenyan boy I tried to adopt on my visit to the Obama’s father’s homeland. Sadly, adoption laws in Kenya were too stringent for me to bring the baby home,” she wrote at the time. 

    The big scoop led her to gain notable recognition from key figures such as Reverend Jesse Jackson, who invited her on a trip to Ivory Coast. 

    During her tenure, she won nine Emmy Awards and spent the better part of her career at WGN amassing over 21 years. She, however, passed on September 1, 2021, due to health reasons. 

    Obama, in 1992, had detailed in his book “Dreams From My Father” how he toured the streets of Nairobi with his fiancée at the time, Michelle Obama, where he sought to trace his family and discover his roots. 

    His wife also noted that the 1992 trip was a great experience to get to meet Barrack’s family.

    “It was an amazing experience,” she pointed out. “We didn’t have any money, we were sleeping on floors.”

    “To just see that whole other side of Barack. He was just getting to know his family back then,” Michelle stated during a past interview.

    Former US First Lady Michelle Obama during her trip to Kenya
    Former US First Lady Michelle Obama during her trip to Kenya