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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs