Kenyans have been celebrating since dawn on Wednesday, after learning the man they consider their native son will be the next President of the US. Especially in the small farming village of Nyangoma-Kogelo where Barack Obama's father was born, but also all throughout the country and in the Kenyan blogosphere everyone has hailed Obama's victory as an event of historic relevance.
Arisa Moraa, a Kenyan American, describes at Kenya Imagine her first US election being able to vote:
I never had the chance to engage in the voting process in Kenya because I left Kenya before I was of age. I stood by in 2007 as millions of Kenyans voted and felt a sadness at being of age to vote and unable to vote in my home country.
But then came 2008 and I was of age, and I could vote, and Barack Obama an AmeriKen (American Kenyan) like me was on the ballot. It was a chance for me to make history.. first time voting, and voting for a Kenyan. It is an incredible moment in history.
I couldn't sleep last night, and was up at the crack of dawn enroute to a polling station to exercise my privilege to vote. I was a mixture of emotions.. joy, excitement, anxiety, angst…. all at the possibility… the hope, anticipating CHANGE that I can believe in. It took an hour because there was a lot of people there, but I was excited as I checked in my federal selection.. Obama/Biden.. and the other numerous democrats I don't know. I am beyond myself… First time voter… in a historic election.. Obama IS my president!
Kumekucha describes the festive mood in Kenya, including a few photos from the celebrations in the Kogelo village:
Back home in Kenya, President Mwai Kibaki was not just among the first to send congratulatory message to the new President-elect, but he also declared Thursday November 6th 2008 a public holiday throughout Kenya. Almost everywhere around the country, Kenyans are in celebratory mood as people digest the fact that a man whom they share an ancestry has been elected to the helm of global political and economic power.
Jami ya Keniia expressed her happiness:
Kenyans share the joy with all the Americans that voted Barack and all the world that supported in one way or the other.
I like the spirit of unity and love seen as Mccain conceeded defeat and as Obama calls on Mccain to help in the management of the great America.
Many can still not believe it. A friend once said to me, when Obama was still fighting for nomination in his party, that a black man cannot make it in a [“Wasungu“] country. History is made in a day and that history for Obama, Kenya and Africa is made today.
Moses Kemimbaro comments on the obstacles overcome by Obama:
… he has demonstrated that anything is possible with the right strategy, message and execution. He has overcome what may have appeared to be insurmountable odds, starting with the fact that he is black, partly of Kenyan-origin, relatively young as a president aspirant and quite inexperienced in the Political Arena. This is exactly the sort of change and hope that the world needs. The status quo has been put to rest. Anything is indeed possible. Congratulations President-Elect Barack Obama! The world is with you in creating the change that we need!
Ory Okolloh of Kenyan Pundit writes about Obama's global popularity and his example for Kenyan leaders:
A lot of ink has been spilled over why Obama is popular globally and just how disappointed people will be because of high expectations – I think that’s missing the larger point. Will Obama under-deliver, probably yes. But when was the last time an individual (especially that young people can relate to) inspired THE WORLD to think that things could be different and better, and that there is such a thing as a non-crappy politician?
Now if only we can translate our aspirations for him to our aspirations for Kenyan leaders! Would Barack Obama have made it as a Kenyan politican (or even African) – almost certainly not…we excel in trashing intellectual, ethical, different, individuals who want to participate in public service. In Obama’s own words, “…For as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on earth is my story even possible.” Lets work to change this people.
The Alpha Quadrant, who criticizes Nov 6 being declared a public holiday since “In the US, the election day was not even a public holiday,” is one of the few bloggers that is not celebrating Obama's victory. In his opinion, Obama's victory is not going to bring change in Kenya:
There are still IDPs in camps by the way.
There's still the Waki and Kriegler reports that cannot be wished away.
There are still HUGE GAPING POTHOLES on a good number of our roads.
Poverty is still a major issue
Change? In Kenya? Nah? Just business as usual – with the usual over-indulgence of all things political. Boring!
And a commentor on his blog adds:
Even as we celebrate Obama’s success story, even as we with fingers closed wait for his inauguration as the 1st half black President of the USA. We need as Kenyans to ask ourselves this fundamental question. What has been our contribution to Obama Success?
His BIOLOGICAL father was a Kenyan, who however abandoned his son and escaped any responsibilities of child support. Infact Obama confesses that he learnt more form his Kenyan ‘father’ absence than from his presence. This is kenya’s EMBARASSMENT NO. 1.