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Dropping In on Obama's Kenyan Grandmother
|Last Edited||karin1492 Oct 29, 2008 09:25am|
|News Date||Wednesday, October 29, 2008 03:00:00 PM UTC0:0|
|Description||What it means to be an Obama in Africa. |
Last Sunday morning, while Barack Obama stumped in Colorado, his paternal grandmother, 86-year-old "Mama Sarah" Obama, stood before a microphone and a crowd of several hundred villagers on a plot of land in Kogelo. Beside her was Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, whose helicopter had descended unexpectedly onto her tin-roofed homestead moments earlier. Streams of excited villagers ran across the surrounding corn and cassava fields and from a soccer game at Senator Barack Obama Secondary School.
Odinga addressed the crowd and the Kenyan TV cameras that followed him in Luo, the local tongue: "Today we have gathered here to say hello to Mama Sarah. The boy from here, he's gone to compete. We are praying for him so that he succeeds. Are you happy with Obama?"
"We are happy!" the crowd responded.
"Are you happy with him?"
Though I may have been the only person for miles around who actually has a vote in the U.S. presidential election, the occasion seemed oddly like a campaign rally. In a sense, it was. For Prime Minister Odinga, who, like the Obamas, belongs to the Luo tribe, and whose loss in a tainted presidential election last December touched off devastating ethnic violence, the appearance with Sarah Obama was not only an expression of solidarity, but also unambiguous political groundwork for what he might one day claim as a direct channel to the White House. For Obama's grandmother, the arrival of the Kenyan prime minister was another indication of how the phenomenal rise of an Obama child has changed the lives of the other Obama family half a world away.
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