October 30, 2008
What it means to be an Obama in Africa
Andy Isaacson in Slate:
The day before, in Kisumu, I was talking about Obama to a boatman on Lake Victoria when a nearby car radio blared the following judgment: "God has already chosen Obama on Nov. 4! Who are you to say no?" Nowhere in Kenya—perhaps nowhere in the world outside of blue-state America—is there more optimism about an Obama victory as in Kisumu, a predominantly Luo city on Kenya 's western border with Uganda, which still bears the scars of last winter's election violence. Indeed, the widely held fear that vote-rigging on Nov. 4 could snatch the election from Obama reflects the lingering sentiment among Luos here that Kenya's tainted presidential election—in which Odinga officially lost to Mwai Kibaki—was stolen from them. I've been asked several times, "Do you think John McCain can steal the votes?"
Obama's likeness appears on watch faces, key chains, posters, T-shirts, calendars, and women's shoes. Hawkers offer CDs of Obama-inspired reggae and Luo songs in the open-air bus depot. Mockups of $1,000 bills with Obama's portrait filling the oval are plastered on public minivans. ("I just asked the designer to pimp the van, and it came back like this," the driver told me.) A generation of newborns named "Obama" are entering the world. A schoolteacher in a local village says her students sing Obama songs: "He is a genius/ He is a hero/ He comes all the way from Africa/ To go compete in the land of the whites/ He makes us proud/ For at least he's made Africa known to the world." The campaign 8,000 miles away has been closely observed. When I arrived in town, my tuk-tuk driver offered punditry of the third debate: "For the first 20 minutes, it was competitive and McCain was good, but then Obama was much smarter."
More here. And here is a bonus video [thanks to commenter pirano]:
Kenge Kenge: Obama For Change
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