AP, December 11, 2008
By his own admission, Barack Obama was “a skinny kid with a funny name,” but that isn’t stopping proud parents from Romania to Indonesia from naming their newborns after the U.S. president-elect.
Romania’s downtrodden Gypsies—once enslaved, like African-Americans, yet still struggling to overcome deep-seated prejudice—seem particularly inspired.
“When I saw Obama on TV, my heart swelled with joy. I thought he was one of us Gypsies because of his skin color,” said Maria Savu, whose infant grandson—Obama Sorin Ilie Scoica—was born in the central Romania village of Rusciori.
Little Obama is the third child of a poor family that barely gets by on 200 lei ($66) a month in welfare benefits.
Obama’s victory also moved Sugiarto, a 36-year-old security guard in Jakarta, Indonesia, and his wife, Sularsih, to name their new son after him.
“He’s great, isn’t it?” said Sularsih, 34, rubbing the cheek of their sleeping 1-month-old, Husein Obama. “I think it’s a beautiful name for him. And who knows? Maybe one day he’ll be president of Indonesia.”
Americans also have been naming children for Obama. Patrick and Sasha Hall Fisher of Hollywood, Florida, are credited as being the first: Sanjae Obama Fisher was born a few hours before news outlets declared Obama to be the new president-elect.
And in Brazil, at least eight black candidates took advantage of a quirk in electoral laws and opted to have their names appear as “Barack Obama” in October elections.
In Romania, Banel Nicolita, a member of Romania’s national soccer team, is a Gypsy who comes from a family of eight who once lived in a house made of mud. His accomplishments, against all odds, have earned him the nickname “the Obama of Romanian football.”