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Obama makes history as Kenyans celebrate their ‘son’


By | December 31st 2008

By Martin Mutua

In November Barack Obama, who traces his roots to Kenya, was elected the first black President of the US.

Born of a Kenyan father, Barack Obama Snr, an economist and a white mother, Ann Dunham, an anthropologist, he trounced Republican Party candidate John McCain with landslide victory.

He will be inaugurated the 44th President of the US, on January 20.

President-elect Obama has been putting together his administration and has appointed his rival in the Democratic Party race, former First Lady Hilary Clinton, his Secretary of State.

Obama’s election also ushered in a new era where his wife Michelle Obama, will become the first African-American US First Lady.

His election also captured the imagination of the whole world, especially Africa and Kenya in particular, where residents in Kogelo village, Siaya District hailed him as ‘their son’.

The Standard first broke the story of a little-known man with Kenyan ancestry running for the Illinois Senator’s job, in 2003.

For millions of Americans, the ‘American Dream’ as envisaged by the late Human Rights activist Martin Luther King Jnr, seemed to have unfolded with the election of Obama.

Immeasurable pride

For Kenyans, it aroused immeasurable pride as they shared in Obama’s momentous moments in world history.

Most Kenyans now view him, as the man who brought great honour to the country.

Kenyans relished the limelight and international glory, every time Obama’s origin was mentioned on foreign news channels.

In his last visit to Kenya in 2006, Obama was the Illinois Senator, already a big achievement.

He met President Kibaki in State House, Nairobi and Prime Minister Raila Odinga accompanied him on a tour of Nyanza.

The first time Obama declared he would seek public office was in 1990, when he was 28 years old, studying for a law degree at Harvard Law School.

He was interviewed widely by US newspapers in February 1990, when he became the first African-American to hold the prestigious office of President of Harvard Law Review.

In 1992, Obama organised one of the largest voter registration drives in Chicago history, to help Bill Clinton’s election.

Obama became one of the recognisable mobilisers for the Clinton campaign, which set him on course to interacting with the President to revive the fortunes of the Democratic Party.

The rest, they say, is history as the lanky man known in a tiny Kenyan village as Ja Kogelo (man from Kogelo) awaits his enthronement.

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