Remarks at a Meeting With Staff and Families of Embassy Nairobi

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Nairobi, Kenya
August 4, 2012

AMBASSADOR NOLAN: Good afternoon everyone. For those of you whom I haven’t met in my five days now – (laughter) – here in Kenya, my name is Steve Nolan. I’m the charge d’affaires, thanks to the Secretary.

We are absolutely delighted today to have so many representatives of our mission finally welcoming Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, welcome her back to Kenya. I think everybody returns to Kenya. I have returned a few times. So I would like to say, Madam Secretary, Karibu Kenya. Welcome to Kenya.


AMBASSADOR NOLAN: Madam Secretary, we are delighted that you’ve chosen to come to Kenya at such an important time in this nation’s history, with national elections coming next March and as Kenya continues to implement its new constitution. This mission is critical and involved in that transformation, and the hard work that they have done is helping this country to progress.

We all take great pride in the partnership – the strong partnership – that has gone on for nearly five decades between the United States and Kenya. And these are the people who are responsible for making it stronger. This is one of the best missions in Africa. It is also one of the largest missions in Africa, over 20 agencies, doubled in size since I was last here.

Your personal interest in Kenya and in our efforts, as a close friend and ally of this country, means a great deal to all of us. We look forward to hearing your message to us today. And to paraphrase the words of Isak Dinesen, I’d like to say that here you are, where you want to be. (Laughter.)

And without any further delay, I now present to you our honored guest, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Well, Ambassador Nolan, thank you very, very much. We’re delighted that you have taken on this responsibility to be the charge. And you bring so much experience as well as a great appreciation for this magnificent country and this incredibly important mission.

I’m also pleased that Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson is here with us, a former ambassador to Kenya. (Applause.) I was kidding him today, he is so popular in Kenya he could run for office – (laughter) – which may turn out to be a good thing. (Laughter.)

Well, I personally am delighted to be back here in Nairobi. As Ambassador Nolan said, for 50 years, we have had a strong partnership between not only our governments but our people. And this large, significant mission is at the center of that partnership and friendship. It’s really the hub of our work in this region. From our efforts to stabilize Somalia to our engagement in the Indian Ocean, it’s a big set of responsibilities, and I am so proud of the way that this mission, with 20 different agencies as part of the United States Government presence here, really steps up time after time.

I can’t come to Nairobi and speak before an Embassy audience without remembering that next week will mark the date that our Embassy here, along with the Embassy in Dar es Salaam were bombed 14 years ago. We have not and will not forget those who were lost and injured that terrible day, and we have not and will not back down from our efforts to combat and defeat violent terrorism and extremism. The response of the Embassy community to that terrible day was extraordinary. We have recovered, rebuilt, and rededicated ourselves and gone on to even more important and lasting work.

I know that for many of you this last year has been a difficult year of transition, but despite the challenges you have continued to work with our partners here to promote democracy and economic growth. We have spent a lot of time today talking about the upcoming elections, the hard work being done to implement the constitution, to reform the courts, reform the police, to really make sure that the promise of the constitution is delivered to the people who overwhelmingly voted for it.

You have supported efforts to fight corruption, preserve the environment, promote trade and tourism. You’re stalwartly in favor of and producing results in the areas of health and education. You’ve helped administer over $350 million in humanitarian assistance, largely food aid, which is part of the nearly $12 billion in humanitarian assistance that the United States has provided the Horn of Africa over the past two years.

Now, to build on that good work and in recognition of the challenges, today I’m announcing an additional $54 million in humanitarian assistance for the Horn. (Applause.) So that will be on top of the 1.2 billion, and that will include 15 million specifically for Kenya. This funding will assist vulnerable populations living in conflict zones or hit by natural disasters, such as flooding or droughts. We’re particularly focused on Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia.

Now, when an Embassy works as well as this one, it’s because you have a such a strong community. And I especially want to thank the family members of all the U.S. Government employees, Foreign Service, and Civil Service. Your work is so important because your support is so critical. And we acknowledge it and thank you for it.

And I also want to say a special word of thanks to our local staff. Will all the Kenyans here raise your hands, all of you who have been here, the backbone? (Applause.) I frequently say that ambassadors and secretaries come and go, but the local staff – you’re here. You’re the memory bank and the nerve center, and every year you help to train up a new set of Americans. But you keep this enduring relationship going and growing, and we could not do our work without you.

So on behalf of President Obama, who has a very special place in his heart for this country, and myself and the entire team in Washington, thank you. And I especially thank you for the work that went into this visit. It was a packed day of many meetings, many consultations, all of which gave Ambassador Nolan and Ambassador Carson and myself greater insight into how the United States can support the upcoming elections.

These will be critical elections. Because of the violence in 2007, Kenya lost more than a billion dollars in investment. The GDP dropped significantly. And when government leaders ask me to help them do more to bring business and investment to this country, my quick response is then you do your part to make sure this election is free, fair, and transparent and that all Kenyans accept the results, and do your part to speak out against divisiveness, against anything that would undermine the unity of this country. Because ultimately these elections are totally within the control of the Kenyans themselves, but the United States, as your friend and your partner, want to do all we can to make sure that they are successful.

So thank you for your service and for representing the United States so well. And now let me come by and meet you and thank you in person. Thank you all. (Applause.)

PRN: 2012/T69-09