US Presidential Election 2008

Africans gear up to celebrate
an Obama victory

Africans organized all-night parties to watch the U.S. election results roll in, determined to celebrate a moment in history as Barack Obama tries to become the first black American president.

"Tonight we are not going to sleep," said Valentine Wambi, 23, a student at the University of Nairobi. "It will be celebrations throughout."

She planned to join hundreds of other students in the Kenyan capital for an election party late Tuesday.

In the western Kenya village of Kogelo, where the Democratic candidate's late father was born, police tightened security Tuesday to prevent hordes of media and others from entering the rural homestead of Obama's step-grandmother.

Obama is wildly popular across Africa, and many hope an Obama presidency will help this vast continent, the poorest in the world. Some are hoping for more U.S. aid to Africa, while others simply bask in the glory of a successful black politician with African roots.

"Obama, being partly African, has the moral obligation to intervene in Africa," said Samuel Conteh, Managing Editor of The New Citizen, an independent local newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone. "The aspirations of Africans are very high, believing that he will change the social and economic situations of Africans."

Obama was born in Hawaii, where he spent most of his childhood reared by his mother, a white American from Kansas. He barely knew his late father, an economist from Kogelo. But that has not stopped "Obamamania" from sweeping the continent, and particularly Kenya, where his picture adorns billboards and minibuses.

In Nairobi's Kibera shantytown, one of the largest slums in Africa, residents were hoisting cups of "Senator" beer in his honor. A huge conference center in the capital was to broadcast the results live for members of the public.

In Uganda, hundreds of university students booked a hall on campus in the capital, Kampala, to watch the results.

"We will feast if Obama wins," said Makerere University student Robert Rutaro. "We will celebrate by marching on the streets of Kampala and hold a big party later on."

Kenya's two main newspapers ran Obama stories on the front page. The Standard newspaper also offered a 16-page "Obama Magic Souvenir Pullout," with photos of the candidate as a child and during his campaign.

The mass daily newspapers in Nigeria, Africa's most-populous nation, were running rare multipage inserts with U.S. electoral coverage. Headlines in The Sun called Obama a "Black Phoenix" and declared in advance of an expected Obama victory: "One Giant Leap for Mankind."
 

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