[The Daily Nation, Kenya]



The Daily Nation, Kenya

Why Africa Exults at Obama's Victory


"Kenyans believe that with this win, their "son" will implement Africa-friendly policies that could lift the continent from poverty."




June 5, 2008


Kenya - The Daily Nation - Original Article (English)

There are three reasons Kenyans in particular, Africans in general, and the Black race at large, are excited about Senator Barack Obama's spectacular feat in clinching the U.S. Democratic Party nomination for the presidency.


First, Senator Obama has made history as the first African-American to win such a nomination and vie for the presidency of the world's sole superpower.


Secondly, he is regarded as a son of Africa who has made it good in the world.


Third, he is a son of Kenya, tracing his roots to this country through his father, who hailed from the present-day Siaya District.


That's why after a bruising battle against Hillary Clinton, most Kenyans celebrated when Mr. Obama won the nomination. They believe that with this win, their "son" will implement Africa-friendly policies that could lift the continent from poverty.


In the United States itself - especially among African-Americans, his nomination is a landmark, as this is a country where winning the right to vote for "people of color" took a long struggle.


But all of the celebration could be premature, for although the senator epitomizes the American dream, he'll have to constantly look over his shoulder in the run-up to the November elections. One must keep in mind that his presidency isn't a done deal yet.


After his epic win, the major challenge will be to unite the Democrats and win over Mrs. Clinton's supporters, for they may decide to stay home or vote for Republican nominee, Senator John McCain.


Despite his impressive showing, Obama still has to grapple with red-neck Democrats and diehard racists who may not be so enthusiastic about his candidature. Indeed, he's lucky that so far, no one has openly dwelt on the sensitive issue of race, although it's very much alive in the background


But the major battle will be a generational one. Obama is 46 and so will have to convince Americans that he's better than the 71-year-old McCain, a who earned his reputation as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.


Though he looks promising and has unmatched oratorical skills, Obama has to grapple with the issue of experience especially on foreign policy. To his credit, though, all through the campaign he has opposed the unpopular war in Iraq.





But what's Africa's interest in the American elections? Ever since the departure of Bill Clinton - seen as the most Africa-friendly president so far - global issues like the war on terror have ensured that issues of interest to Africa have been pushed to the back-burner.


With a new administration in Washington, Africa's core issues will be rising global food and fuel prices, subsidies to farmers which distort trade, barriers that affect Africa's exports to the West, and the war against HIV/Aids.


Many Kenyans hope that if Obama wins the presidential race in November, he will address himself to all or at least some of these issues. But will he be able to overcome the powerful lobbying groups that control American foreign policy and that have so little time for Africa?


These questions aside, for Obama to win he will certainly need all the support he can get from Hillary Clinton. But it's not clear whether the bitter rivals will be magnanimous enough to work together and unify the party.


Some Democrats argue that Obama should settle for Hillary as his running mate, since the two have managed to get so many people who have never voted before out of their homes.


It's tempting to accept the arguments of both Obama and Clinton that rather than being a waste of valuable time, the drawn-out primary season has invigorated the party, drawing record crowds and attracting new voters.


The card is now in the hands of American voters. Kenyans and Africans in general can only pray that Obama's "Change" agenda will sell.


































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US June 4, 9:49pm]

Barck Obama claps hands with his grandmother, Sarah Hussein Obama, at his father's house in Nyongoma Kogelo village in western Kenya, Aug. 26, 2006.

—BBC NEWS VIDEO: Opinions from around the world on the U.S. Presidential election, June 4WindowsVideo

RealVideo[LATEST NEWSWIRE PHOTOS: Obama wins the Democratic nomination].

Sarah Hussein Obama, paternal grandmother of Barack Obama, in the living room in the village of Kogelo, near the shores of Lake Victoria, Kenya.