/ languages

Choisir langue

US presidential election/international reactions

Kenya declares Obama holiday

Article published on the 2008-11-05 Latest update 2008-11-06 10:10 TU

Villagers in Kogelo celebrate Barack Obama's victory.(Photo: Reuters)

Villagers in Kogelo celebrate Barack Obama's victory.
(Photo: Reuters)

Barack Obama’s election victory is not only a success for African-Americans, but also for Africans in Kenya, where the president elect's father was born. Kenya erupted in celebration at the news of Obama’s win, and Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki declared Thursday a national holiday.

Obama is widely considered a “son of Kenya”.

“This is a momentous day not only in the history of the United States, but also for us in Kenya,” Kibaki said. "The victory of Senator Obama is our own victory because of his roots here in Kenya."

Kenyans of all walks of life celebrated Obama’s victory, which could mark a new chapter in US-Kenyan, and more widely US-African, relations.

Hundreds of villagers in Kogelo, where Obama’s family lives, sung and danced in joy. Washington Obonyo, the village pastor, said that he stayed up all night praying, and that those prayers had been answered.

Even as a thunderstorm broke overhead, villagers continued the celebration with a local band.

Correspondent James Shimanula in Nairobi says that today is a day of national pride. “It’s all excitement everywhere,” he told RFI.

Obama’s victory brings a positive message to Kenyans following last year's election troubles.

"He might send the message that you have to live like brothers and sisters rather than basing your life on ethnicity," Shimanula says.

Q+A: Correspondent James Shimanula in Nairobi

05/11/2008 by David Coffey