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Senegalese Support Barack Obama's Candidacy for US President


With U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama scheduled to speak at his party's national convention this week, Senegalese citizens say they are aware of the possibility of the first U.S. African-American president, but they say they are more worried about their own daily struggles. Ricci Shryock has more from Dakar.

Butcher Cheikh Gning bends over a slab of pork in his one room stand on the roadside of Dakar, Senegal, as he talks American politics.

Gning, 26, knows who Barack Obama is, he says. He knows Obama is running for president of the United States. And he knows Obama would be the first black president of the United States.

But, Gning admits, that is about all he knows. He is too busy working 11 hours a day to really pay attention to American politics.

Here in the capital of Senegal, most Dakarois know that Barack Obama is running for president of the United States. And many of them get weekly election updates by watching the local TV news stations, which relay international news.

Mbaye Fall Deing, an IT Manager in Dakar, says he checks the Obama campaign Web site about once a week. But, he adds, most Senegalese have other worries.

"They are not really interested in politics. They really care about living, about the problems they have in the everyday," said Deing. "They are not really talking about politics in America, or even in Senegal."

Dieng says he wants Obama to win, but he doubts Americans will elect an African-American president.

"I support Obama, because I want an African-American to have a chance as a president in [the] U.S., but seriously I doubt he will be a president, because for me, some radicals will never accept that," added Dieng.

In this capital city, noisy traffic whizzes by the stores where Mbalax, the traditional Senegalese music, blares through overhead speakers.

Inside one of those stores, Iba Ndiaye is selling food supplies. Ndiaye takes a small break from his work to discuss Obama.

He says that just a few hours before, he heard Hillary Clinton speaking. She was urging Americans to vote for Obama.

The thirty-five-year-old Senegalese man says he watches Obama speak once or twice a week on TV. He thinks Obama is an eloquent speaker and a gentleman, and he says when Obama speaks, he seems sincere. He enjoys watching him on the television.

But for now, he says, it is time for him to get back to work.

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