Kenyans Bask in the Glory of ‘Native Son’

Karamagi Rujumba, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov. 5, 2008

The dancing started early this morning when CNN International announced that Sen. Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States.

The crowd, much of which stayed up all night watching election returns on a 19-inch TV screen in the compound of Grace Obama—the step-mother of now President-Elect Obama—erupted in Luo song and dance.

They sang a Luo chorus: “Wan wadhi, wan wadhi eh whitehouse, wan wadhi ka Obama,” or “We are going with, we are going with Obama to the White House.”

The group formed a column and went to Sarah Onyango Obama’s house, where it found the 87-year-old family matriarch already in song and dance.

The merriment continued as the caravan danced around the family compound, all through Sen. John McCain’s concession speech, stopping only to dance around the TV as Mr. Obama delivered his victory speech.

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And as night gave way to dawn and an almost cloudless morning rose in Kogelo, the Obama family started preparations for a big party today.

Throughout Africa, many people stayed up at all-night parties or woke before dawn today, gathering around televisions and radios as Mr. Obama was declared the winner.

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In Nairobi’s Kibera shantytown, one of the largest slums in Africa, hundreds gathered around a massive bonfire of tires. Residents joyfully held up Obama posters, blew whistles and waved American flags.

Mr. Obama, the son of an economist from Kenya, is wildly popular across Africa.

Many people hope an Obama presidency will help this vast continent, the poorest in the world. Some are looking for more U.S. aid to Africa, others simply bask in the glory of a successful black politician with African roots.

“Obama, being partly African, has the moral obligation to intervene in Africa,” said Samuel Conteh, managing editor of The New Citizen newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone. “The aspirations of Africans are very high, believing that he will change the social and economic situations of Africans.”

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