Africa’s Journal

Your source for African news.

Africans elated by first black U.S. president

Posted by africasjournal on November 6, 2008


Residents of Kogelo, Kenya, celebrate news of Barack Obama's victory early Wednesday morning.

(CNN) — Celebrations erupted in Barack Obama’s ancestral home in Kenya and across Africa as the U.S. Democratic candidate made history by being elected America’s first African-American president. Residents of Kogelo, Kenya, celebrate news of Barack Obama’s victory early Wednesday morning.

In the western Kenyan village of Kogelo, where Obama’s father grew up, people partied in the streets. But the biggest party of all was at the house of Obama’s grandmother, 86-year-old Sarah Obama, who could not resist doing a victory dance of her own.

Speaking in the local language, Sarah Obama said she planned to one day visit her now-world-famous grandson, whom she still calls “Barry.” To a roar of laughter, she said she’s afraid she may die of happiness when she sees him next.

In true African style, Kogelo villagers slaughtered a boar to give thanks for Obama’s presidential win.

“We are going to have a feast and eat every single meal we have,” Sarah Obama said with laughter.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the entire country was proud of Obama’s presidential victory. He said the government declared Thursday a public holiday to celebrate the win, which he said offered hope for Kenya and the world.

“It gives them confidence in themselves that everything is achievable,” Odinga told CNN.

“If somebody sets his mind to it, has the confidence and commitment, this is what Obama’s victory really means — not just to young Kenyans but to the youth all over the world — (believing) in the ability of one to achieve what one sets out to do.”

With a population of less than 1,000, Kogelo is a normally sleepy place that has found itself transformed by Obama’s political success. Campaign posters shout Obama’s name and vendors sell CDs of his speeches and T-shirts bearing his picture.

Obama has visited the village before. His first visit was in 1987, just after his father died. When he visited his grandmother in 2006, Obama already drew huge crowds.

Besides his grandmother, Kogelo is also home to Obama’s uncle, Said Obama; aunt, Hawa Auma; and half-brother, Malik Obama, who says he speaks regularly to his sibling.

Thousands of people have been posting messages on CNN blogs congratulating Obama and America after the Democrat’s victory over Republican rival John McCain.

Yvonne Okwara, from Kenya, wrote: “Obama’s win is so personal to so many of us, it continues to amaze me. One thing America has taught us today is that true democracy never dies.”

Basimane Bogopa, from Botswana, added: “Americans have shown once again, why they are world leaders. Obama’s victory has shown me that the American dream is real, you just have to dream. My heart is filled with joy.”

Many Africans believe an Obama presidency will help the impoverished continent. His victory is likely to seal America’s reputation in the minds of many Africans as a land of opportunity.

And for South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, the election of America’s first is a symbol of hope.

“Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place,” Mandela said in a letter of congratulations to Obama.

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