US President-elect Obama for the world

Emails keep pouring from various parts of the world, expressing their congratulations for the victory of Democrat presidential nominee, Barack Obama. Kenya has even declared November 5, 2008 a public holiday to commemorate Obama’s win.

“My heartiest congratulations to you, for the new US president,” wrote Max Haberstroh from Germany. One reader, from Chang Mai, Thailand even went as far as saying, “Congratulations, now you can be proud again to be American.”

In Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Obama fans at around 5:00 am on November 5 could still be seen on the streets of Leidseplein (one of Amsterdam’s busiest streets, with their “Obama for President” posters.

In Kenya, however, the US election victory of Barack Obama, now due to become the 44th president of the United States in late January, has spurned celebrations across Kenya.

The Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki promptly announced a public holiday for Thursday this week to allow the Kenyan people celebrate the success of one (half) of their own. Obama was born to a Kenyan father and a US citizen and brought up by his mother and later his maternal grandmother, while the father‚s family continues to live in Nyanza province in Western Kenya.

Global media were camped at the home village of Kogelo, near the city of Kisumu, and once the victory became clear a bull was slaughtered for the entire family, friends, clan and other well wishers attending the live broadcasts on satellite television. Pictures from the outburst of joyous ululations by the entire village went around the world, just as soon as Obama‚s election victory became evident, when he rapidly accumulated the required number of votes in the Electoral College.

His election victory is also thought to attract many more visitors to Western Kenya in particular in coming years, not only from the US but from across the world, probably making it a place of near pilgrimage for the global Obama fan club. Good news for Kenya and hopefully also a reminder that a proper democratic process simply cannot be beaten when it comes to elections.