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.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.