Big girl. You are beautiful.
Big laughs, big reception and a big girl with a big heart.
Following Federer’s trip to Ethiopia, Serena Williams became the second tennis player to visit Africa this month, as she toured the country to open her new school in Kilili Village in the Eastern Province of Kenya.
Close to 3000 people flocked to received Serena on her visit, many of the locals just as impressed by the 3 helicopters flying overhead as they were by the World No 1.
“I can’t believe it. I had never heard of her [Serena], neither had I seen an helicopter before,” said Ndunge Kithuku, a Form One student at the newly inaugurated Serena Williams Wee Secondary School. “I will never forget this day; my birthday present has come two weeks early.”
This is Serena’s second school in the country, and she vowed to continue her philanthropic work there.
“I’m very happy to be here and, besides winning the Australian Open, this is more victory for me,” said Serena. “I will always hold this school dear to me and I hope that I’ll get more chances to continue with this venture.”
Serena’s visit to Kenya has captured the imagination of the country, with the Kenyan Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka praising her efforts in setting up the schools. Musyoka said her partnership with leading Computer manufacturer Hewlett-Packard (HP) and a charitable organization – Build African Schools, is set to transform rural communities by equipping them with school facilities as well as helping them attain computer literacy.
So impressed was he that he suggested an offer of dual citizenship to Serena when she paid a courtesy call to his residence.
Unfortunately for the Kenyan government, the scandal over the embezzlement of funds meant for Free Primary Education within the country put a dampener on Serena’s visit. Many bloggers and critics in Kenya were quick to point to the stark contrast between the philanthropic efforts of international personalities like Serena and the allegations of corruption within the Kenyan Ministry of Education.
But overall, it was a good news week for the Kenyans, with the country announcing its return to Davis Cup after a 5 year absence. The Kenya Lawn Tennis Association has assembled a team that is currently training in readiness for this year’s tournament to be held in Morocco in May. Plans are also underway to apply for reinstatement in the Fed Cup after Kenya pulled out in 2005.
Kenya’s always been near the top of my “places to visit before I die” list. And as always, it’s wonderful to see tennis players actively involved in charity work, saving themselves from a life of terminal self-involvement.
Serious kudos to Serena. You go girl.