Kenyan Indians celebrate Obama VictoryNovember 5th, 2008 - 5:32 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Nov 5 (IANS) Not only the Kenyan Africans but also the Kenyan Indians are ecstatic about the victory of Barack Obama, whose father was a Kenyan, in the US presidential elections.The two Kenyan radio stations serving the 100,000 strong Indian community have been broadcasting the results of the US elections round the clock and featuring interviews with local Indians who have been calling in to express their happiness and good wishes.
The biggest station East FM has been broadcasting Obama’s victory news and taking excited calls since the first results started coming in. The other station, Sound Asia, has also featured live interviews with Kenyan Indians commenting enthusiastically on this victory.
Zarina Patel, a historian and an editor of Awaaz Magazine for Kenyan Indians told IANS on phone: “Everybody is absolutely delighted as this is a victory not just for us but a global triumph. Of course, Kenyan Indians are celebrating now and tomorrow has been declared as a national holiday.”
Zahid Rajan, a co-editor of Awaaz, said: “Lots of people are calling us to express their happiness and offer congratulations. Yes, Kenya will be back on global focus with Obama as the country has a special place for the new US president.”
The Kenyan Indian community is completely apolitical, added Rajan. Yet the community is very upbeat about Obama’s victory mainly because many of them have their children settled in the US. Like all Indian Americans, these former Kenyan Indians have been strong supporters of Obama and have involved their parents as well.
“This victory for Obama is victory for all Kenyans,” said Anil Vidyarthi, a leading printer. “Tomorrow a special Kenya national holiday has been declared and we have started our celebrations from now onwards. Most people will celebrate with ‘Senator’ beer that has been launched with Senator Barrack Obama in mind.”
“We have been praying in our temple,” said Jayaben Shah, a housewife, “And our prayers have been answered. Since he has a Hanuman as his lucky charm, he has won.”
“Since tomorrow is a public holiday, the Indians may gather at their community centres and celebrate Obama’s victory,” said Liladhar Bharadia, a news photographer for the Indian community.
The father of the next US president came from Western Kenya with Kisumu town as it headquarters. The town has a large number of Indian traders whose shops were looted and burnt after the last Kenyan elections in January 2008. They are letting bygones be bygones and celebrating with the local Luo community to whom Barack’s father belonged.
“It gives us hope that even in Kenya, the local Indians may stage a comeback in the political arena,” said A.B. Patel, a businessman, recalling that Indians fought for Kenya’s freedom attained in 1963 and were elected to parliament with ministerial positions in the 1960s and 1970s.
“It’s amazing that Barack Obama, from Kenya’s second largest tribe, the Luo, has become the president of the United States, while no Luo has yet become the president of Kenya even after 40 years of our freedom. Of course, we have had Luo ministers in the Kenya government since our independence, and now we have Raila Odinga as the prime minister but no Luo has yet become the president,” Sukhdev Singh, a contractor, told IANS.
(Kul Bhushan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)