KOGELO, Kenya, Nov 7 – Singing and dancing, the ancestral village of Barack Obama celebrated on Wednesday the re-election of the son of their soil, who won because he knows how to “love all people”, his grandmother said.
Crowds stayed up throughout the night in Kogelo, a small village in western Kenya nestled in the hills about 60 kilometres (40 miles) from the blue waters of Lake Victoria, until the results showed Obama had won.
“The reason why he has won is because God has given it to him,” said Sarah Obama, 90 this year and the third wife of the paternal grandfather of the president, who has said he regards her as a grandmother.
“Secondly he has got the knowledge to love all people, he doesn’t have the knowledge of division, that is why he has won,” she added, speaking in the Luo language to reporters on the lawn outside the family home.
Weary from an all-night vigil but happy at the win, people cheered to welcome her – known popularly as “Mama Sarah” – and in support of the victory.
“It was tough this time, nothing like last time,” said 35-year old Calvin Odinga, a chemist. “But we were so happy Obama made it.”
In Nairobi, Prime Minister Railda Odinga praised a win he said would “reignite faith worldwide, but especially in Africa, in the restorative capacity of democracy to deliver change and discard entrenched divisions.”
President Mwai Kibaki offered his own congratulations in a statement to Obama. “Kenya, as always is proud of our association with you,” he said.
For Obama’s grandmother, the re-election was more important than his win four years ago. “He came back a second time, and he won,” she said.
But she also sought to quell the disappointment of many Kenyans who had hoped for a visit from the president during his first term. “We cannot be bitter,” said Mama Sarah.
Many in Kogelo stayed up all night as the results trickled through, some splashing out to attend coverage shown on a big screen at a hotel despite the 12-dollar ticket – a small fortune for many people here.
But others gathered in a small dark room nearby, with diehard supporters refusing to go to bed until the announcement was made.