Joy and celebration engulfed the small village of Nyangoma in western Kenya as villagers celebrated US Senator Barack Obama’s nomination as the first black presidential candidate of the Democratic party on Wednesday.
It was a great moment for the people of Nyangoma in particular and Kenyans in general because of Obama’s Kenyan roots.
Obama’s father, the late Barack Obama senior – a Harvard-educated economist – was born in Nyangoma in Kenya’s Siaya District.
Thousands of villagers, among them a battery of local and foreign journalists, thronged the home of Obama’s paternal grandmother, Sarah Anyango, to share the glory after months of a gruelling contest against Hillary Clinton, Senator and wife of former US President Bill Clinton.
President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga led Kenyans in celebrating the historic victory as they hailed the majority white US electorate for being ‘colour-blind’ when casting their votes.
President Kibaki noted that the victory was a manifestation of the ”faith and confidence” which Democratic membership had in Obama’s credentials.
Prime Minister Odinga, a distant relative of Obama, conveyed a similar message, saying Obama’s nomination was ‘a momentous occasion’ in history.
In Kisumu City, western Kenya, residents wished the 46-year-old Senator well in the main presidential contest against Republican candidate John McCain later in the year.
Local Mayor Sam Okello said the nomination was a big plus for Kenya and Africa, adding that it would help improve Kenya’s tourism industry.
Kenyans in major towns stayed up late on Tuesday night to witness Obama make his televised speech, during which he declared victory and said America faced a defining moment in the November presidential election.
Obama’s grandmother, overwhelmed by journalists seeking to interview her, was optimistic that her grandson would become the first black American president.
“He has come a long way and I know that he will be next president of America,” she said.