DES MOINES, Iowa -- An organization of Kenyans in the United States is holding its annual cultural conference in Iowa this year. The organization is using the opportunity to connect, network, and partner with leaders and companies to learn what Iowa has to offer.
"We do invite government officials from Kenya, from where we come from, our villages," said Joe Kipnusu, National Coordinator and Communication of Gotabgaa International. "We have Nandi County here, we have the Deputy Governor from Kericho County, as well as the Governor from Baringo (County). So what they do when they come here, we connect them with, Iowa being an agricultural state, we connect them with different agricultural companies where they can share ideas, be it technological advancement, for how to just increase production. We have very fertile lands in Kenya, just the same as Iowa."
The governor of Baringo County in Kenya said he's already learned a lot from Iowa farmers.
"They do farming (with) new technology," said Governor H.E Stanley Kiptis. "I saw the way the farms are...prepared. The issue of also the utility of organic, organic aspects...Our farming system and our approaching to farming, I suppose we need to change. We need to change so that we may maximize the yield."
State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad showed the group around the Capitol. Ako said he hopes to accomplish more than just finding ways in which Iowans can partner with Kenyans.
"It’s not only about finding ways to work together," said Abdul-Samad, "but to clear up the misinformation and also to deal with the fear that people have especially with immigration right now. And so this is why we’re reaching out, you know, even more so, because you got individuals that know nothing about Africa, know nothing about especially those countries. In fact, you got people that believe Africa's a country. You know, they don’t see countries in Africa. They just think Africa's a country itself. So we plan to address that, you know, and be able to educate people and hopefully get away from this fear of immigrants and be able to work together, instead of dividing from one another."