Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The United States Presidential Kenya!

It was quite the experience to be living here in Nairobi, Kenya during the United States Presidential Elections. It was difficult to follow coverage as we only had CNN covering everything. But as you know, all the channels pretty much say the same thing.

No one here was really sure what would happen here in Kenya when we received the election outcome. Would there be riots if he did not win? Would the streets be crazy if he did win? Neither happend (although many were prepared if they did), but it was certainly the most talked about event that has happend to this country (the country of Kenya) in a very long time. It was so strange to me that even though Barack Obama's father was from Kenya, that they would have such a connection to him, almost as if he was running for President here in the country of Kenya. It was quite an interesting experience to be here amongst the Kenyans during this time. I am sure it is a time I will always remember and I am sure never to forget.

When we first moved here I was surprised that whenever you would meet a Kenyan, they would all mention Barack Obama since they knew you were from the United States. He will be your next president, they would say. It is so wonderful, they said. I would smile nicely and nod my head wondering if they actually knew that we really didn't know if he would be President or not and that we had not even had our elections yet. They when make sure to tell me that his grandmother lives here and that he comes to visit here. All as if they knew him personally.

Now a little side note about Africa:
Everyone is of course from tribes and/or villages. There are many, I have no idea how many, but there are a lot. They have their immediate family members, but they also have many other aunts, uncles, brothers, and many grandparents all whom live in their village, their tribe...and they are ALL family. An example of this made itself clear many times with friends when one of their gardeners would say his mother had died. Then the next month she died again, and two months later his mother died yet again. If you had no idea of their connections with their village and their community you would of course not believe them. And on top of all that, they have to get paid time to go to the funerals (normally around 2 weeks) and you are expected to give money to help in their travels to get to the funeral (as sometimes it can be all the way to West Africa) and the expense of the funeral. So having a death can be quite an expense for an employer as you can see.

So anyway, when people speak of Barack Obama, I am not sure if they are from his grandmother's village of if they know his grandmother, but he is a Kenyan through and through and there is no doubt they are VERY proud and honored that he was even running for the presidency of the United States, but obvioulsy thrilled now that he going to be President.

Moment of Zen:
My moment of zen today was when I asked my housekeeper what it meant to her that Obama was now president of the United States. Her English is not great, but she said they were happy. I asked her what that meant for her people? She said we know now that we will get taken care of and that we will not have to worry anymore. This of course made me a little confused and also very sad. In my mind I wondered what she was expecting from our US President? What did she really think he could do for the country of Kenya?

I do hope, after living here in Kenya, that the president can do something for these people. But if anything, I think Barack Obama brings them hope just as he has brought so many American people. Personally, I did not vote for Obama, but I do put my trust in our next president and hope he will do the right thing for our country and our people. And I also believe in our system, in our democracy, our freedoms and hope that one day all people will have this, even hopefully one day, the people of Kenya.

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