As you would expect, Kenyans have had Obama fever over the last few weeks. Their temperature peaked yesterday when their pride swelled on the news of his victory, so overcoming them that President Kibaki named today Obama Day, effectively closing all businesses to celebrate what their son has accomplished.
Some Kenyans stayed up all night on Tuesday to hear the first results. Me, on the other hand, just set my alarm for 4 a.m. so I could start to watch the results come in once the polls closed at home. Sitting on the couch, completely glued to CNN, the results started showing that Obama was in the lead. Hours passed and he when he started winning major states, my excitement grew and grew. Then at 7 a.m. (11 p.m. Eastern), the California polls closed and CNN declared Obama the winner!
The local channels immediately went to images of Kenyans dancing in Kogelo village (where Obama traces his heritage) where their excitement matched that of the crowds at home. The rest of the day Obama was the only acceptable topic of conversation. When I arrived at the USK office, I heard Obama’s victory speech being replayed over the radio, I saw employees looking at the state-by-state results and felt the happiness and pride that infiltrated every Kenyan that morning.
Obviously, this man has not only injected hope in Americans, but into Kenyans too. What he has inspired is not just excitement and pride, but the true belief that everyone has the chance to make it in life, no matter where you start from. The American Dream is just as alive here in Kenya as it is at home and Obama is the one that has made that happen.
However, this hadn’t always been the case. When I first got here in May, the common sentiment I felt from Kenyans was that life is hard and that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to move up past what you were born into. But on Wednesday morning, the attitude shifted. Thanks to Obama and the Americans who voted for him, now the feeling is that everything and anything is possible for anyone, even ordinary Kenyans. This new found hope and optimistic vision for the future is exactly the kind of thing Kenyans need to improve their lives and their society.
For this reason, and so many others, I am so proud to have such an inspiring man as our 44th president. He has already changed so much and I can’t wait to see what else he can do in the next four to eight years. Happy Obama Day everyone!
Posted By Kristina Rosinsky
Posted Nov 6th, 2008