Wednesday, November 5, 2008

In Kenya, a holiday, song and dance for Obama

U.S. President-elect Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) arrives to speak to supporters with his wife Michelle (R) and their children Malia (2nd R) and Sasha during his election night rally after being declared the winner of the 2008 U.S. Presidential Campaign in Chicago November 4, 2008.  REUTERS/Gary Hershorn

U.S. President-elect Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) arrives to speak to supporters with his wife Michelle (R) and their children Malia (2nd R) and Sasha during his election night rally after being declared the winner of the 2008 U.S. Presidential Campaign in Chicago November 4, 2008. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn 

By ANTHONY KARIUKI

Kenyans are celebrating Barack Obama's triumph the best way they know how - with song and dance - the Government has weighed in with a public holiday on Thursday as a country salutes an emphatic win.

Shortly after CNN declared Obama the winner just before 7am (Kenya time) on Wednesday, President Kibaki announced that Kenyans will on Thursday take a day off to mark the historic election of Obama to the most powerful office on earth.

Even as the President made the declaration, Kenyans were already deep in celebration. From the sprawling Kibera slums in Nairobi to the senator's ancestral home 400 kilometres west in Kogelo, Siaya, jubilant Kenyans sung and danced in honour of a victorious son.

Scenes of wild celebrations were also seen at the Kenyatta International Conference, Nairobi where Kenyans kept vigil all night following the US election in giant screens.

Said President Kibaki: “This is a momentous day not only in the history of the United States of America, but also for us in Kenya. The victory of Senator Obama is our own victory because of his roots here in Kenya. As a country, we are full of pride for his success.”

He said that Obama’s  unassailable victory was a clear testimony of the confidence the American people have not only in his leadership and vision for his country but for the world at large.

“On behalf of the Government and people of Kenya, and on my own behalf, I join the rest of the world in celebrating and congratulating you on your election as the 44th President of the United States of America.”

“I am confident that your Presidency shall herald a new chapter of dialogue between the American people and the world at large.”

The President also expressed readiness of his government to work with the new American administration to further promote and strengthen relations that exist between the two countries.

“We the Kenyan people are immensely proud of your Kenyan roots. Your victory is not only an inspiration to millions of people all over the world, but it has special resonance with us her in Kenya.”

Prime Minister Raila Odinga, away on an official trip in China, led the Government delegation in celebrations when Obama's win was projected by CNN and Time magazine.

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka said Obama's victory heralds a new dawn in history of America and in relations between America and other nations of the world.

"It is exciting for Kenya not only because of continental attachment to President-elect because of his roots in Kenya but because Obama victory is a harbinger of good tidings especially for our tourism sector."

The VP said many Americans would now wish to visit country of the father of their new President.

He said never before has a candidate of a superpower been widely supported across the world.

"This means Obama's leadership of US is likely to bring world nations closer and bridge polarisation that currently exist," he said.