Kenya in carnival mood in expectation of Obama victory

November 4th, 2008 - 8:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaNairobi, Nov 4 (Xinhua) Carnival mood has gripped Kenya as citizens were planning massive parties with the expectation that US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama will make history by becoming the first African American president of the world’s biggest economy. The 47-year-old Illinois senator Obama, whose father was a Kenyan, held a seven-point lead over rival Republican John McCain on the final day of the campaign.

Drums of victory were already sounding across Kenya and East Africa Monday night with Ugandans arriving in groups in the lakeside town of Kisumu to join the celebrations.

“I could not get a flight to Kisumu Monday. That’s why I am driving to Kisumu to join my family in celebrations,” Joy Auma, 40, told Xinhua.

Nairobi, Kisumu and Coast hoteliers announced special Obama night to last till morning, where patrons are expected to eat and drink to their fill as they monitor the poll results.

A popular Nairobi restaurant, the Carnivore, has also lowered its prices for the day to allow their customers to monitor the US election results.

Dozens of public transport vehicles - matatus - around Kenya have been colourfully decorated with Obama’s name and picture on their sides and windows. And everyone wants to ride in the Obama vehicles.

“He is huge here. We followed our hero through the primaries, through Iowa, Florida and everywhere else. We are now ready to usher him into the gates of the White House,” said James Onyango, a resident of Kisumu.

The preparation for the parties and all night vigils came as both Obama and McCain went on frenzied last-minute campaign rallies across the so-called battleground states.

But the situation was no different in other major Kenyan cities and towns where entertainment spots are expecting booming business from revellers keeping awake to monitor the US election.

Many Kenyans regard Obama as one of their own. Obama himself detailed his Kenyan ancestry in his memoir Dreams From My Father. Obama’s father bore children with four women in the United States and Kenya. He left the candidate’s mother, Ann Dunham, to return to Kenya.

Kenyan television correspondents report live daily from the United States, and from Kogelo village, home to Obama’s grandparents where international media have been airing live news.

Framed photographs of Obama are sold in the street next to portraits of Kenya’s president and prime minister, which usually are hung in offices. Peddlers also hawk Obama T-shirts, buttons and keychains. Songs praising Obama are hits, heard nationwide in nightclubs, pubs and at homes.

Members of the Obama family, including the candidate’s half-sister Auma, uncle Said and his father’s first wife Kezia, have gathered in Kogelo village ahead of the election.

Swamped by local and international journalists, the modest family homestead has been cordoned off by the Kenyan police, and the family is refusing to make comments until the election is over.

They have set aside a bull to slaughter in celebration should the Illinois senator win, according to family spokesperson Malik Abongo.

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