News

Kenya Celebrates President-elect Obama as Native Son

Multimedia

Audio

Barack Obama's election victory was greeted with particular enthusiasm in Kenya, where he is viewed by many as a native son.  Crowds celebrated in the western village where his grandmother and other relatives live, and the president even announced a national holiday to celebrate the event.  For VOA, Derek Kilner has more from Nairobi.

Barack Obama's election victory has been celebrated around the world, but perhaps nowhere as much as in Kenya, where President Mwai Kibaki announced that Thursday will be a national holiday.

"Because of his roots here in Kenya, as a country we are full of pride for his success. I therefore wish to announce that tomorrow, Thursday the sixth of November the year 2008 be observed as a public holiday to enable all Kenyans to celebrate this historic achievement for President-elect Obama," said President Kibaki.

In the village of Kogelo in western Kenya, where Mr. Obama's grandmother and other relatives live, crowds danced in celebration as the news of the Obama victory was announced shortly after dawn.  Mr. Obama's uncle, Sa'id Obama, spoke to VOA from the village.

"People are so happy, so excited.  People are dancing.  People are in a festive mood," he said.  "And we are also slaughtering cows, goats, sheep, I mean people are going to feast literally to celebrate Barack's win."

In the nearby city of Kisumu that is dominated by the Luo group, to which Obama's family and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga belong, Obama mania is at its most intense.  The celebrations spilled out into the streets.

There is also a large Luo community in Nairobi's biggest slum, Kibera, and there too, raucous festivities greeted the news of Obama's win.  But in Nairobi, Kenyans from different backgrounds packed into the city's bars and restaurants to watch Obama's speech.  

Stephen Dunga, whose family is from the country's Eastern Province, watched the speech in the downtown restaurant where he works.

"I have been watching CNN since morning.  Each community supports Obama, they are praying for him to win," said Dunga.  "I think the celebration is country wide.  Not from one province or the other."

At the American ambassador's residence, students, officials and members of civil society, both Kenyan and American, cheered the results.  

"This is a big lesson," said Njeri Kabeberi, director of Kenya's Center for Multi-party Politics. "We had our own problems in January, February after we messed up with our own electoral process and messed up with our own tallying and counting process of the elections.  So this is a big lesson that you do not have to steal votes, you do not have to discriminate against other communities, because we did discriminate against other communities.  So what is most important is for the leadership that is going to provide that particular country what that country needs.  And in this case, it is change they can believe in, and for Kenya we better actually start believing in some change in our leadership style."

Back on the streets of Nairobi, music shops throughout the city are playing Jamaican reggae star Cocoa Tea's hit song celebrating Mr. Obama.

A shopkeeper says it is the hottest selling CD in town.  Bernard has just walked in to purchase the disk after hearing it playing in the street.

"I think Kenyan people have got a lot to learn from the American election.  It has shown true democracy, it does not matter how you look like, it does not matter where you come from," he said.  "It is about what policies you have for the people, so I think in Kenya next time we make a decision about our leaders we will know what to look for."

The election results arrived early Wednesday, catching many people as they headed to work.  But with a holiday declared for Thursday, the celebrations could be even stronger.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs