It’s dreams come true as change hits Kogelo

By | Nov 10, 2008

By Baraka Karama and Mangoa Mosota

US presidential election brought rare goodies to the residents of Kogelo.

Apart from the US, the world’s attention was last week focused on this once sleepy village where the US president-elect Barack Obama traces his roots.

Four-wheeled vehicles parked outside the home of Sarah Obama, president-elect’s grandmother, was a rare spectacle for the residents.

A boy moved closer to a four-wheeled Prado, arms akimbo. From the look in his eyes, he was mesmerised.

He was joined by another pack of children who equally marvelled at the big machines — big cars and cameras.

Many vehicles

"The last time we saw many vehicles was when Barack Obama senior died. Although many vehicles came, they cannot rival these ones. He has brought joy to us," says Leonida Okal, 60.

Both the international and local media had also pitched tent in the compound.

However, the major centre of attraction was the big screen television set up for the residents to follow live coverage of the election. For nearly 48 hours, their eyes remained glued on the giant screen that more than 90 per cent among them had never accessed before.

More than 100 technicians with about 15 trucks erected power poles from Ng’iya, about five kilometres from the granny, with swiftness that left many in shock.

"We have been ordered from above to ensure that there is power in this home by the end of the day," said a sweaty technician.

"We are happy with the decision KPLC has taken to light up this home," Said Obama, the president-elect’s uncle, said.

New job

And on Friday, Sarah landed a job as a goodwill ambassador against malnutrition.

The granny will work with a subsidiary of the Inter-governmental Institution for the Use of Micro-Algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition.

The organisation’s subsidiary — Kisumu Kids Empowerment Organisation — works on spirulina, a locally cultivated algae food supplement for malnourished children and people living with HIV/Aids.

Back at Kogelo, three graders have been smoothening impassable roads, to the excitement of villagers.

"We have been told that the road would soon be tarmacked. I cannot believe what I am seeing," says Gladys Akello, a businesswoman.

Akello, 60, says the area would attract a number of visitors, including foreign ones, and would become a tourist attraction. Many people have been visiting the home to congratulate the family following Obama’s historic win.

When The Standard visited the home, more than 80 students of St Mary’s Yala Boys were queuing to shake Sarah’s hands. "I am elated to see Obama’s grandmother. I have also been shown where Obama senior was buried," said Erick Odhiambo, a Form Two student at the school.

During the elections, close to 100 journalists camped at the village. Majority of them filed their stories live as the villagers watched in surprise.

Asked whether he had seen a television camera before, Ogutu quickly answers, "Wuoda, aneno kanye? Nyaka ne nyuola poka awuok Kogelo ka." (My son, where do I see it? I told you that ever since I was born I have never left Kogelo).

Erastus Onyango, 12, says he is overjoyed after he met and greeted a white man.

"I only hear that there is a mzungu (white man), but now I have seen one. Obama has made me see one today," said Onyango.

Fringe benefits

Kogelo residents are excited over the fringe benefits of having their security beefed up, as a result of the raise of status of the Obama family in the village. A police station will be set up about 200 metres from Sarah’s home.

"We are happy the Government has increased the number of police officers in the compound from 10 to 20," said Said.

As the curtain closed on the US elections, many residents wonder if they will live to achieve other dreams.

"The best place to marry from in Kenya right now is Kogelo," a journalist remarks.

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