Kenya celebrates Obama inauguration

January 21st, 2009 - 3:22 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaNairobi, Jan 21 (DPA) Tens of thousands of Kenyans celebrated Barack Obama’s inauguration as the 44th president of the US at parties across the east African nation as images of their favourite son were beamed onto big screens.Thousands gathered at a public viewing at Nairobi’s Kenyatta International Conference Centre, clapping and cheering as President Obama spoke.

In Kogelo, the Western Kenyan village where his late father grew up and where his grandmother still lives, residents slaughtered goats and bulls and feasted in Obama’s honour.

Earlier in the day, around 3,000 people gathered at a school in Kogelo to watch traditional dancers in brightly coloured costumes.

In nearby Kisumu, thousands danced into the evening as music blasted out from loudspeakers.

Parties were expected to continue late into the night as Kenyans, who often do not need much of an excuse to enjoy a few beers, take the chance to fete the new president.

Kenyans are fiercely proud of Obama, and the celebrations allowed people to forget their woes, which include a food crisis threatening 10 million people with starvation and memories of the ethnic clashes that killed over 1,500 people one year ago following disputed elections.

Many Kenyans, and indeed Africans, hope that President Obama’s Kenyan roots will help bring a new focus on the continent’s myriad problems.

At the very least, many say they feel a new sense of self-respect since a black American with humble roots in Kenya can reach the White House.

Kogelo has already seen concrete benefits, with electricity, water and road upgrades following Obama’s election.

The tiny Kisumu airport is also expected to be upgraded quickly to accommodate Air Force One should President Obama wish to fly in to visit his grandmother.

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