Big parties planned in US and Kenya to celebrate Obama victory

Monday November 3 2008

U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Senator

U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) greets a supporter during a rally. PHOTO/ REUTERS 

By MACHARIA GAITHO In Chicago, Illinois

As US voters go to the polls on Tuesday, different groups of Kenyan-Americans are planning massive parties in expectation that Barack Obama will make history by becoming the first African-American president of the country.

In American cities where Kenyan immigrants reside in large numbers, arrangements have been made for all night parties until the results are out.

Indeed, in Jersey City, New York, Baltimore, Boston, Washington DC, Houston and other cities, Kenyans and other African immigrants are getting ready for the historic moment.

Mr Obama, the Illinois Senator whose father was Kenyan, was going into the final day of the campaign holding onto a six-point opinion poll lead over Republican candidate John McCain.

Opinion polls

Apart from the lead in the national opinion polls, Mr Obama was also leading in the race to pick up delegates across various states.

The American president is not directly elected by the people. He is elected by an  electoral college of 538 delegates from all the 50 states and the Washington DC capital states.

A candidate winning the popular vote in a state secures all the delegates, officially known as electors, for that state. A simple majority of 270 delegates is required for to win.

“We are going to have a big party,” Mr Richard Maburi, President of the Kenyan-American Community Association Inc in Jersey City told the Nation.

Mr Maburi, who has been a volunteer for the Obama campaign in Jersey City and other parts of New Jersey State is confident of his victory.

By mid last week he had already started inviting people for the gathering which will be part celebration and part vigil awaiting the results.

In Washington DC, a club that has become a popular meeting place for Kenyans and is jokingly referred to as the Kenyan embassy, was gearing up for big business.

“We are ready and prepared to stay open all night,” Mr William Mukabana, proprietor of the Club Safari DC, said.

Many other African communities that have settled in the US are also enthralled by the prospect of an Obama victory.

The preparation for the parties and all night vigils came as both Obama and McCain went on frenzied last-minute campaign rallies across the so-called battleground states.