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Obama Win Sparks African Euphoria

People in Africa are celebrating the election of Barak Obama as the next president of the United States. In Senegal, some people stayed up late into the night watching the returns on satellite television or listening on international radio. VOA's Scott Bobb reports from Dakar.

Senegalese, Americans and people from other parts of the world cheered the announcement, shortly before dawn Wednesday, of Barak Obama's election as the next president of the United States.

In one such gathering at a café in Dakar, Senegalese businessman Roch Peton said Africans were impressed that a black person who grew up under difficult circumstances could be elected president of such a nation.

He congratulates the American people for its greatness, saying they have set an example for the entire world.

American educator Amy Johnson, who organized the evening, said Mr. Obama's election would provide tremendous encouragement to young black people everywhere.

"Having an African-American president means that we have just turned this leaf in the world where the color of your skin doesn't predict who is the president of a country," she said.

Lamine Savane, who studied and lived in the United States, called it an unbelievable, historic event. He says the world is at a crossroads and people need new leadership.

"What is it [leadership] going to be? Is it going to be a big brother-little brother in a positive way? Or is it going to be a big brother in a bully way? I think the way the world is today, the bully thing doesn't work anymore," he said.

Many, however, do not expect great changes in U.S. policy toward Africa.

Tricia Lawrence-Savane, who is originally from Trinidad, says Mr. Obama is still going to be an American president holding American interests foremost.

"But I think he'll be more sensitive because he has African heritage. I think he'll be definitely more sensitive to the needs of Africa and he will try to deal with Africa in a way that will hopefully improve the situation here," she said.

Karima Grant Abbott, a Senegalese who grew up in the United States, hopes the Obama administration will also encourage greater transparency.

"Because Obama had some familiarity with growing up in a developing country, he knows that you have to hold people accountable," she said. "I'm hoping he can come and be like [say], wait, we're not just pouring millions of dollars into it [your country]. We're asking people what are you doing with the money that's already there?"

As Mr. Obama came on television to accept his victory, emotions ran high in the group. People were laughing, crying, and hugging strangers.

Some sang the U.S. national anthem leading one participant to observe that it seemed as if the whole world had voted in this election.