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Kenyans, Unsurprisingly, Favor Obama

Although citizens of the world cannot vote in the U.S. presidential election, a new Gallup poll shows if they could, Democrat Barack Obama would win by a landslide over his opponent Republican John McCain. Nowhere is the interest more intense than in Kenya, where the African American senator is considered the hometown favorite. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.

In the streets of Nairobi, a photograph of the Democratic candidate is almost as good as money. At a music store in the Kenyan capital, customers line up to buy Barack Obama-inspired music.

At a nearby print shop, T-shirt designer Tony Ndolo says shirts with the candidate's image sell out almost as quickly as they are printed. "Barack is a blessing for Kenya and for my wallet in particular," he says. At most newsstands, the biggest headlines are reserved for stories about the U.S. presidential contest.

One Nairobi resident said the election may be thousands of miles away. But if Kenyans could vote, she says the 47-year-old senator would already be president. "We hope that Obama wins because we believe he is going to bring change into Africa and the whole world."

For many, the idea that the son of a Kenyan professor could become the first black president of the United States is powerful inspiration.

Milka Akinyi even named her son after the Illinois politician. "I named the kid Obama because long time ago Obama was also like this, a baby, and now he is intending to be a president in the U.S.A." says the proud mother.

At a small village in western Kenya, where Obama's paternal family lives, Kenyan police are already posted, ahead of festivities expected here when U.S. polling stations close.

That's how confident Malik Obama is that his American half-brother will win. He says, "Everybody is extremely happy and excited and looking forward to celebrating the day after the elections."

Most national polls put Obama ahead of his Republican opponent by a few percentage points. But some Kenyans believe the only way Obama can lose is if the election is stolen from him. "Because he has been leading in the polls all along and I will not understand why Obama have lost, if they tell us Obama has lost,” says one Kenyan. “That will definitely show that they have rigged Obama out because of racism and color."

Despite the Democratic candidate's popularity in Africa and Europe, a recent Gallup poll shows Republican candidate John McCain is preferred in some countries -- but by much smaller margins.