Thursday, January 10, 2008

Kenyan kin keep Obama faith

News | Africa -
U.S. Senator Barack Obama's Kenyan grandmother said her grandson is "full of surprises" and will come back from defeat in New Hampshire's primary to become the first black U.S. president.

In Obama's ancestral village of Kogelo in western Kenya, 85-year-old Sara Hussein on Wednesday expressed the general feeling among locals intently focused on the U.S. presidential race amid the violent election turmoil in their own country.
Obama's Kenyan family hail from the Luo tribe of opposition leader Raila Odinga, who accuses Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki of stealing re-election in a poll that has triggered ethnic bloodshed, especially between the Luo and Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe.

Yet support for Obama, whose first name means "blessed" in east Africa's Swahili language, runs across Kenya's tribes.

"I hope to see Obama as the first black president of America," Dan Chemotei, from the picturesque Rift Valley province, which has seen some of the worst violence, told Reuters in central Nairobi where he works as a guard.

"If we get one of our own to lead the world's most powerful nation then we will get a lot of foreign aid and attention. Obama will definitely address the current political crisis in Kenya because he is ours," he said.

Charles Odhiambo, who drives a bicycle taxi in Kogelo, said a President Obama would bring tarmac, water and hospitals to Kenya.

"If he becomes president we will get all that. He will buy me a new motorbike to replace my old bicycle," the 30-year-old father of three said with a smile.

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