I have mentioned in previous entries the immense interest and pride I have witnessed when it comes to Barack Obama. He is celebrated and honored. There are a handful of popular songs featuring the American president that regularly play on the radio here. Shop-owners have renamed their businesses. On my way to work every day, I pass a building that has “OBAMA HOUSE” painted across the front in huge letters. All over Kenya, public transport have Obama’s image and name painted on them. T-shirts and other clothing (including the absurd-yet-irresistable hologram belt buckle) are splashed with his image.
In Kenya, I was even able to buy a traditional wrap with Obama’s face and a Swahili inscription about him. The woman pictured with me (in matching Obama ensemble) danced and clapped and sang a song about Obama as I bought it.
I hope that the excitement I have seen among Africans about Obama’s candidacy and election can translate into positive change for Africa, the type of change Obama spoke about in Accra, Ghana last week. I do not think that Obama is singlehandedly going to bring about great progress on the continent, but I do hope that people here can view his unlikely achievement as exemplary, as proof that ordinary people–maybe even ordinary Africans–can have power and take responsibility, and as a reason to abandon defeatism and corruption in favor of hope and action.