Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's all about Obama - Wed 11/5/2008

Our friends in Kenya tell us nobody slept last night, as the world awaited the election results...

> Read the cover of today's Daily Nation newspaper

In Kenya, a holiday, song and dance for Obama

U.S. President-elect Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) arrives to speak to supporters with his wife Michelle (R) and their children Malia (2nd R) and Sasha during his election night rally after being declared the winner of the 2008 U.S. Presidential Campaign in Chicago November 4, 2008. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn

By ANTHONY KARIUKIPosted Wednesday, November 5 2008 at 07:33

In Summary
Government declares a public holiday on Thursday to celebrate the election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the US.

Kenyans celebrate Obama's victory with song and dance breaking out in Kibera, Nairobi and Kogelo, the US President-elect ancestral home.

Kenyans are celebrating Barack Obama's triumph the best way they know how - with song and dance - the Government has weighed in with a public holiday on Thursday as a country salutes an emphatic win.

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Shortly after CNN declared Obama the winner just before 7am (Kenya time) on Wednesday, President Kibaki announced that Kenyans will on Thursday take a day off to mark the historic election of Obama to the most powerful office on earth.

Even as the President made the declaration, Kenyans were already deep in celebration. From the sprawling Kibera slums in Nairobi to the senator's ancestral home 400 kilometres west in Kogelo, Siaya, jubilant Kenyans sung and danced in honour of a victorious son.

Scenes of wild celebrations were also seen at the Kenyatta International Conference, Nairobi where Kenyans kept vigil all night following the US election in giant screens.

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

He said that Obama’s unassailable victory was a clear testimony of the confidence the American people have not only in his leadership and vision for his country but for the world at large.

“On behalf of the Government and people of Kenya, and on my own behalf, I join the rest of the world in celebrating and congratulating you on your election as the 44th President of the United States of America.”

“I am confident that your Presidency shall herald a new chapter of dialogue between the American people and the world at large.”

The President also expressed readiness of his government to work with the new American administration to further promote and strengthen relations that exist between the two countries.

“We the Kenyan people are immensely proud of your Kenyan roots. Your victory is not only an inspiration to millions of people all over the world, but it has special resonance with us her in Kenya.”

Prime Minister Raila Odinga, away on an official trip in China, led the Government delegation in celebrations when Obama's win was projected by CNN and Time magazine.

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka said Obama's victory heralds a new dawn in history of America and in relations between America and other nations of the world.

"It is exciting for Kenya not only because of continental attachment to President-elect because of his roots in Kenya but because Obama victory is a harbinger of good tidings especially for our tourism sector."

The VP said many Americans would now wish to visit country of the father of their new President.

He said never before has a candidate of a superpower been widely supported across the world.

"This means Obama's leadership of US is likely to bring world nations closer and bridge polarisation that currently exist," he said.

> Full story with photo


Africa Stays Up All Night to Hear US Election Results

By Peter Heinlein Addis Ababa05 November 2008
Heinlein report - Download (MP3) Heinlein report - Listen (MP3)

Millions of Africans are exhausted after staying up all night watching expectantly to see whether a man of African descent will elected to the America's highest office.

VOA's Peter Heinlein attended an all-night party of journalists and political enthusiasts in Addis Ababa where everybody was talking about being American for a day to share in this historic election.

It's a long night here in front of the television at this upscale Ethiopian home.

Half a dozen anxious viewers drift in and out, trying to control the nervous energy. It's well after midnight, but the TV screen shows long lines of voters standing in the rain waiting for their turn in the voting booth. TV commentators kill time until the first polls close.

"There is a good deal of confidence in the Obama campaign that he's going to win this evening," they said. "So far, there's also the unknown. As one strategist put it, 'I'm a nervous wreck."

That comment sends a thrill through this audience. This is Africa and there are no McCain supporters in the room.

Deresse Kassa, a professor at Addis Ababa University, says he has never stayed up late for any elections results. But this is a moment he says he doesn't want to miss.

"America has history whereby the African-American community has to struggle to be considered citizens themselves and be a franchise in order to cast their votes," said Kassa. "Coming from this segregation and inequality, to be able to see Democratic candidates running for the presidency, the highest office, by itself is big achievement."

The televisions are on as the first results come in during the wee hours of the morning. The news is encouraging for viewers here.

Journalist Lulit Amdamariam says she is energized by the possibility of witnessing, what she calls, a great moment. "We're going to be here all night," she said. "Thirty-two hours, if we have to."Lulit is not an American, but she lived in the States for several years and attended Howard University in Washington.

"I attended a black college, so I understand what this means to the black community in the United States," said Lulit. "This is a candidate the entire world can relate to."

Lulit's colleague Tamrat Negera, editor of at the Amharic-language newspaper Addis Neger, has not been to the United States, but he says he can understand what this election must mean to African-Americans.

"Africa shared the pain of being black, or the pain of status, or colonization, which you understand there was a limitation for a black in this world," he said. "But Obama is breaking that through."Journalist Lulit Amdamariam calls it an American moment.

"I think this is the only time the entire world wishes they were American," she said. "So they could vote. Seriously, I think the entire world would go out and vote if they had the opportunity tonight."

This is a moment to remember. Although some Africans may have a hangover on Wednesday, the prospect of the first black U.S. president has enthralled a continent.

> Full story


Not just Africa! Even in Asia...

Asia Welcomes US Election Results

By Kate Pound Dawson Bangkok05 November 2008
Dawson report - Download (MP3) Dawson report - Listen (MP3)

People across Asia gathered to see the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. At election-watch events in dozens of cities, people cheered as Democrat Barack Obama won a historical victory. VOA's Kate Pound Dawson in Bangkok brings us the reaction in Asia to the race.

Bob Watson helps a group of Bangkok, Thailand, high school students as they attend a U.S. embassy-sponsored election watch party, 05 Nov 2008

Hundreds of Thais and Americans cheer as it becomes clear that Senator Barack Obama has won the election.

This election has drawn heavy interest around the world. Thai businessman Apinan Tungsianugul says that is partly because of Mr. Obama, the first African-American to be elected president.

"This election is a new thing. [It] could change the [politics] in the world. Just like Obama. Obama is not a white people," he said.

In Asia, polls have shown Mr. Obama is a clear favorite. For some people, it is because, as a Democrat, he represents a change from the policies of President Bush, a Republican, who has not been popular in Asia. Others were attracted by Mr. Obama's positions on the economy and the Iraq War. And, for some, it was his association with Asia.

Mr. Obama's step-father was from Indonesia and he spent several years in Jakarta as a child. At the Indonesian school he attended, his campaign has been closely watched.

Children cheer at Menteng One school, which Mr. Obama attended as a child.Eddy Gucando, is a teacher at the school. "I'm very happy because today I think, today is the day that can change the world if Barak Obama be [is] president," he said. "Because I think now in America there is a new president and that can change the world."

Many people expressed hope that Mr. Obama would maintain strong relationships with their countries.

Wang Dian is a student at China Communications University in Beijing. She says she hopes Mr. Obama's policy will be friendly to China. She says she thinks he knows the importance of friendly relations and trade with China.

Some in Asia hope that Mr. Obama's victory will help other countries learn more about ethnic diversity and become more tolerant. Choi Su-kyung is a professor at Chongnam National University in South Korea.

"This will help Koreans to understand the reality of the American politics, because Koreans are still prejudiced against the minorities," Choi said. "They are actually more prejudiced against minorities than Americans are, toward different racial groups. Americans are much more tolerant of diversity."

Most countries in Asia are closely tied to the United States. Several are military allies, such as South Korea, Japan and Australia. And, almost all Asian nations have close economic links with the United States. With the global economy weakening and with the war in Iraq dragging on, people all over the region say they just hope for change in American politics.

> Full story

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