Now that Obama has officially been elected to be the next President of the United States, the Obama madness in Kenya has only intensified. In case you thought we were exaggerating in our last post you would like to know that President Kibaki announced today that tomorrow, November 6, has been declared a national public holiday….Obama Day. Schools, banks, offices, stores, will all be closed tomorrow in honor of Obama’s victory in the election. He joins Kenya’s first and second Presidents (Kenyatta and Moi) in having his own Kenyan National Holiday. Kenya’s current President has yet to earn that honor.
The Daily Nationhad many interesting stories today about the different forms of celebrations that are happening around the country. Apparently, Obama’s relatives that live in the village of Kogelo, Kenya butchered a bull in honor of Obama upon hearing of his victory. They celebrated with song and dance, chanting “We are going to the White House!” One of Obama’s half brothers, Malik, who lives in Kogelo was picked up by excited residents and carried throughout the village. There have been numerous stories from across the country of celebrations, dancing in the streets, and singing in honor of Obama. In Kisumu, Kenya one man was severely beaten…twice….for attempting to vote for John McCain in a “mock election.” Obama won the “mock election” unanimously (the beaten man apparently never got his vote in the box before his first or second beating) and the beaten McCain supporter was rescued by local police.
As odd and humorous as it may be to watch the Obama-Mania in progress, it is also encouraging to see the hope that a lot of Kenyans are taking from Obama’s victory. Even though some Kenyans anticipate that Obama’s victory will bring more funding and support from the US (which it may), the US already does more for the continent of Africa than most other countries and it will be nearly impossible for the US to give more than the $15 billion the Bush Administration dedicated to the continent through PEPFAR, as well as other initiatives put into place such as “The President’s Malaria Initiative” and “African Education Initiative.” (For all his faults this is one area Bush got right, allocating nearly 3 times the support to Africa than any President before him…..http://www.ippmedia.com/ipp/observer/2008/02/17/108550.html). However, the exciting thing to see is how many Kenyans are looking at Obama’s rise to success as an encouragement and source of hope for their own lives. It also seems that this victory may assist Kenyans in getting past their differences and overcoming the rift that was caused by the post-election violence earlier this year. Either way, it looks like Obama-Mania is just getting started here in Kenya.