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Kenya erupts in celebrations

NAIROBI, October 5 – Kenyans received the news of Obama’s victory with jubilation, many of them taking to the streets where they chanted slogans and waved placards to celebrate the landmark victory of a man they proudly associates with due to his roots in Kenya.

In Nairobi, hundreds of residents in Kibera slum broke out in song and dance to celebrate Obama’s victory in style.

Many youth carrying twigs and waving placards chanted pro-Obama slogans in the slum and parts of Ngong Road to celebrate the landmark victory of the half-Kenyan man, as others forced shop owners to close down to join them in celebrations.

Singing ‘Tawala USA tawala, Tawala ulimwengu Tawala (Rule USA, Rule the world), they marched through the slum as they mobilised support from residents to join them.

“I am very delighted to be associated with Barrack Obama,” said Charles Opiyo, a barber who closed his business to join other youth in the street march. “He is a true son of Kenya and he has done the world proud.”

Electrician James Oloo told Capital News that he spent Tuesday night watching international TV channels just to ensure everything went right.

“I did not want to be told about the victory. I had to see it for myself and that is why I did not sleep and I am still here to cheer our man,” Mr Oloo said.

The cheerful crowd marched through the slum before they headed to Ngong road, causing a major traffic snarl up on the busy highway.

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Police from Kilimani station deployed to maintain security on the highway and just watched as the crowed chanted the slogans.

“As long as you are not rowdy you will go on with your celebrations. But ensure you don’t block traffic,” a senior officer told Obama supporters as they approached Ngong Road.

“He is a Kenyan-American, I just hope he will not forget where he came from. Kenya and the rest of Africa should benefit from this victory,” another resident M’cDonald Otieno said, as he waved an American flag at the local District Officer’s office.

Many shops remained closed in the area, with owners opting to celebrate President-elect Obama’s victory.

“I will not open my shop today because Obama has won, I am doing this in honour of our true Kenyan son Barrack Obama,” Benson Oluoch said.

Kisumu’s songbird Princes Julie well known for her Dunia Mbaya hit song took to the streets Wednesday afternoon with hundreds of Obama’s supporters to show their solidarity.

She carried a stool and waved a flywhisk as she sang praise songs for the man who has claimed victory in America’s Presidency with a landslide margin.

“I did not even sleep at night. I could not sleep at all. I was awake all night and I am now on the streets celebrating the victory of our son Obama. I am very happy, I can even die,” she screamed.

“We have seen change, it is change we can believe in because it has been brought by one of our own. Obama, the son of a Luo, the son of a Kenyan,” she added.

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Another Obama supporter Artur Mc’Onyango who was part of the crowd said he arrived in Kenya on Tuesday with 20 other Kenyans living in America.

He said they will be heading to Obama’s ancestral village in Kogelo to join other family members in celebrating Obama’s victory.

“I came from Texas yesterday after voting for Obama. I am now here in Kenya with other Kenyan-Americans to celebrate this victory. We are going to Kogelo,” he yelled as he marched through Moi Avenue with hundreds of other supporters.

The crowd caused a manor traffic jam on the highway as they snaked through to Haille Sellasie, drawing more and more crowds which quickly joined them for the celebrations.

In Obama’s ancestral village of Kogelo, Barack Obama’s Kenyan family homestead erupted into song and dance at the news that the nation’s favourite son had won the US presidential election.

Swinging twigs and chairs in the air, men cheered and clapped while women ululated and shouted "Obama! Obama!" in the village where his grandmother lives and where his late Kenyan father was born.

"Senator Obama is our new president. God has answered our prayer," said pastor Washington Obonyo, who had prayed for an Obama victory on Tuesday and through much of the night.

"I am very happy, I have not slept the whole night, even my wife slept alone as I waited for the results," said Joseph Otieno, a jubilant Kogelo resident.

"Because Obama has won, we will have a change in the whole world. And for that I will slaughter a cockerel to celebrate with my family."

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Wild celebrations woke the sleepy village, people hugged each other as others ran aimlessly in the muddy streets after spending a chilly night glued to a giant screen watching results unfold on the US networks.

"God bless all Americans and Kenyans," said Kevin Amollo. "I am very happy.

"We feel really good about the victory," added Roselyne Ayaro, another reveller, waving a placard bearing Obama’s picture.

The residents had braved a heavy downpour and deafening thunderbolts overnight, dancing and singing to choruses belted out by a live band at a local dispensary.

Children and youths gyrated to the songs, the lights of an army of international TV crews casting shadows on the tarpaulin tents.

School children danced around the tents before heading to school as police officers kept watch.

In the city of Kisumu, the regional provincial capital, huge screens were also mounted at a city park where hundreds turned out Wednesday morning after catching a few hours’ sleep.

Others crowded restaurants and shops to witness the first accession of a black man to the White House.

"It’s sweet victory for us. He should look into helping us, the people of Kenya," said Walter Oyoo, holding his bicycle above his head.

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"At least our dream of free and fair elections has finally come true. We were painfully robbed here in Kenya, but Obama and America have shown the world what true democracy is all about," said Tom Nyanjong, a primary school teacher.

Kisumu had on Tuesday declared Obama the winner of the presidential contest in mock polls held by two local comedians.

President Mwai Kibaki was among the first foreign heads of state to congratulate Obama and gave Kenyans one more reason to rejoice when he declared Thursday a public holiday in a statement issued minutes after Republican John McCain conceded.

"This is a momentous day not only in the history of the United States of America, but also for us in Kenya. The victory of Senator Obama is our own victory because of his roots here in Kenya. As a country, we are full of pride for his success," he said.

Small groups gathered in a handful of Nairobi bars exceptionally open all night, as well as at the US embassy and the capital’s main conference centre, erupted into cheers.

Strong opinion poll forecasts throughout the past week and early projections from some key states had however prompted many to head back to sleep before Obama’s win was confirmed, confident the homeboy would become "the first Kenyan in the White House".

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