Of course his victory is an historic and almost cathartic event for African-Americans. However, I've been hoping for him to win in part because of what this means to Africa, Africans but especially to Kenyans. One of their own is now arguabley the most powerful leader in the world and I can't help but think that African relations will greatly improve under President Obama. So with this all in mind I've been following the reaction to his election via African news outlets.
I was reading that parties are being planned as of last night to celebrate an Obama victory and I'm sure there will be parties for him in other areas of Africa that will go on for days if not weeks. I say this because when I was in Cote D'Ivoire I had the joy and honor to attend celebrations and parties for ethnic group leaders that went on for hours, days and sometimes weeks. Barack Obama signifies the ultimate African leader as the now soon to be leader of the world basically. In Kenya they are now calling him their "beloved son," how cool is that?!!
Wild celebrations woke the sleepy village, people hugged each other as others ran aimlessly in the muddy streets after spending a chilly night glued to a giant screen watching results unfold on the US networks. The residents had braved a heavy downpour and deafening thunderbolts overnight, dancing and singing to choruses belted out by a live band at a local dispensary. Children and youths gyrated to the songs, the lights of an army of international TV crews casting shadows on the tarpaulin tents. School children danced around the tents before heading to school as police officers kept watch.
In a brief press conference following the speech, Abango [Barack's half-brother] told journalists the family wants to express "extreme gratitude and appreciation of the American people. This "gratitude" is evident outside the homestead as well. American flags, stars-and-stripes-themed clothing and slogans praising America are highly visible today."I am very happy, I have not slept the whole night, even my wife slept alone as I waited for the results," said Joseph Otieno, a jubilant Kogelo resident.
(TPJ: I remember seeing a lot of American flag stuff in Cote D'Ivoire when I was there in the Clinton years and I'm glad to see that support again. It is an early sign of how hopefully America will be seen as a more humble and accepting country of other cultures and countries again).
The Obama family's life in Kenya will be different from here out. Beyond being the center of international media attention, the family will have new responsibilities in their village. "Things are going to change [for us]... We have projects... We have to provide for our people," Abango said. As for the rumors of a Kenyan-style Obama homecoming to Kogelo, Abango said: "I know right now that if you check his appointment book, I bet you he'll get here as soon as he can." The Kenyan government has declared a national holiday this week in honor of Obama.
TPJ: Imagine the celebration should Obama return to his home village. Wow, I hope he makes it back there again. I was also very, proud and honored to vote for Barack first because of his ideas, character, judgment, temperment and charisma but also being a white person as a solidarity vote. I wanted to make up for all the horror that has happened by the hands of white people in the past toward the African-American community. My great-grandmother grew up on a plantation in Tennessee that had slaves and while my grandmother said that they were treated, "well" (which is hard to imagine what "well" meant for slaves because there is nothing "well" or positive about slavery) I wanted to vote in part to make up in some small way for the slavery that stains my family history. And speaking of my beloved Cote D'Ivoire, here is a reaction from the West African country: