National holiday in Kenya on Obama victory

November 5th, 2008 - 2:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaNairobi, Nov 5 (DPA) Kenyans took to the streets early Wednesday morning to celebrate Barack Obama’s election to the White House as the nation’s president declared a national holiday.In downtown Nairobi and in Kibera, one of Africa’s largest slums, people dressed in suits on their way to work joined those who had stayed up all night watching the election returns to dance and chant Obama’s name.

Similar excited scenes took place in Kogelo, western Kenya, where many of Obama’s Kenyan relatives had gathered at the home of his grandmother, Sarah Obama.

Police had locked out the media and well-wishers from the Obama home, but the family was expected to make a statement about the victory later in the morning.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki congratulated president-elect Obama on his victory and designated Thursday as a public holiday for Kenyans to celebrate the “historic achievement.”

“This is a momentous day not only in the history of the United States of America, but also for us in Kenya,” Kibaki said in a statement.

“The victory of Senator Obama is our own victory because of his roots here in Kenya. As a country, we are full of pride for his success.”

Obama’s late father was Kenyan, although he abandoned his son when he was only two years old.

Despite the fact he has only visited Kenya a handful of times, Obama is considered a hero in the East African nation.

Many Kenyans feel that while having an African-American in the White House may not bring concrete change for Africa, it will bring a new self-respect for black people everywhere.

“In colonial times black people were considered unimportant,” said Joseph Mjomba, a 21-year-old student. “Now we have a black man in the White House.”

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