President Obama's half-brother Malik is
carried through Kogelo village,
Kenya. The president's exultant relatives sang out, 'We are going to
the White House!', Nov. 4, 2008.
Obama's Kenyan Village
says Prayers for 'Son's' Reelection (The Daily Nation, Kenya)
churches and mosques, special prayers are being uttered to ask God for their
son's victory. ... 'We know he was elected by God, and we must take our united
prayers and petition Him so that he hands Obama another term,' says Mrs.
Florence Otieno. Even his half-brother, MalikAbong'o Obama, thinks that
what Barack requires now more than ever, is prayer. ... 'The best we can do for
him now is pray. We cannot vote there, because we are Kenyans and this is an
American process. But if we could, we would vote for him to propel his stab at a
It has been four years since the phenomenal election of
Barack Obama as America's first African-American president.
Eight days from now, Americans will go to the polls in an
election that will determine whether Mr. Obama retains his tenancy at the White
Opinion polls indicate that Obama faces a tougher battle
against Mitt Romney than he did when he took his first stab at the presidency in
2008, and when he easily trounced Republican challenger John McCain.
This has made many of his Democratic Party supporters in the
United States more tentative about their candidate’s chances on November 6.
But in Kogelo Village, Siaya County, the birthplace of his Kenyan father, passion
for the president has never diminished.
The excitement is largely fuelled by pride - and not the expectation
that Mr. Obama will shower the villagers with goodies or even send money “home.”
“This is our son. The fact that he is commander-in-chief of
the United States is enough reason to be proud, even if he brings us no material
things,” says 80-year-old Jerome Ombude.
Kogelo villagers have been
following the election campaign, gathering for small “strategy meetings” at trading
centers called "Kamukunjis," where in the
evening, U.S. politics is analyzed.
Gabriel Okoth, convener of one
such meeting, says that people keep abreast of U.S. campaign issues in order to
help determine topics for discussion.
“Even as we go about our daily activities, we rely on FM
radio on our mobile phones to follow topical issues that both Mr. Obama and his
opponent discuss on the campaign trail,” he says.
During the first presidential debate in which Mr. Romney was
pronounced the winner, a caucus under Mr. Okoth felt it
was a tie.
“Having killed Osama bin Laden and with signs that the
economy is back on track, we feel that the president did a good job, and that
that the pollsters were a bit too generous to his opponent,” he says.
says one reason Obama will be reelected is fear that a victory for the Republican
nominee would lead to a military campaign against states he perceives as
“The reason he will win are his diplomatic and bipartisan
approaches to the issues. Remember, he made Hillary Clinton secretary of state,
even after she opposed him for the nomination in the last election. Americans
aren't ready for a president like Mitt Romney, who calls for expanded funding
to the military. Why would you expand the defense budget unless you were
preparing for war?” Mr. Onjiko asks.
Mrs. Patricia WanguiOkoth, chairperson of Pendeza
Africa, a women’s business empowerment group, says that whenever they meet, the
gathering is normally dominated by discussions of why Mr. Obama must win
“Whenever we dispense with the business of the day, the
topic consistently comes up and consumes almost an extra hour. Everyone wants
to give their bit of the story,” she says. “I remember this lady who said that
the son of Kogelo is a ladies’ man, and as such, he
will win many votes among women.”
and mosques, special prayers are being uttered to ask God for their son’s
“We know he was elected by God, and we must take our united
prayers and petition Him so that he hands Obama another term,” says Mrs.
Even his half-brother, MalikAbong’o Obama, thinks that what President Obama requires
now more than ever, is prayer.
“The best we can do for him now is pray. We cannot vote
there, because we are Kenyans and this is an American process. But if we could,
we would vote for him to propel his stab at a second term,” he says.
Kogelo village was thrust into
the international limelight by Mr. Obama’s historic victory in 2008. So famous
has Kogelo become, that almost everyone from the
larger nearby Siaya district has taken to claiming a shared
ancestry with the new American president. The celebrations that followed the
election of the world’s most powerful man lasted several weeks. Expectations ran
This time round, however, opinion is divided on the
benefits to this village of an Obama presidency.
While some residents talk of a diminished thrill compared
to the elections in 2008, others are happy to have had a fair share of the fringe
benefits from America.
“We set the bar so high, but unfortunately we now realize
that Kenya and America are two different countries, and that for Mr. Obama, the
interests of his country come first,” Mr. Onjiko
Despite some disillusionment, Onjiko
still wants to see President Obama re-elected, and he hopes that if re-elected,
the president changes his approach and channels more funds to Kenya.
“I want the sense of pride that he has roots here to
continue. American voters should reelect him because he has served them well. But
he could change his approach and bring us more help or even visit us,” he adds.
Mr. SilaJumaOduol, who repairs motorcycles at the Kogelo trading center, reaches out to the supernatural to
explain the village’s obsession with Mr. Obama.
Aside from the fact that good tidings have come with Mr.
Obama’s ascension to power, many children born since he became an Illinois
senator in 2004 have been named after him.
“The name is associated with good things and good luck,
so every couple who has a child - male or female - has named them after him,”
says Mr. Oduol.
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