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Kenya Celebrates Native Son

ROBERT SIEGEL: From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Robert Siegel.

: And I'm Melissa Block. Today's Inaugural celebrations extended beyond the U.S. to Kenya, the homeland of Barack Obama's father. NPR's Gwen Thompkins reports.

GWEN THOMPKINS: Southwestern Kenya is the kind of place where there are more bicycles than cars. Kogelo, Kenya is where President Obama's father and grandfather are buried. It's normally a quiet place - sleepy, the kind of farming village populated mostly by old people. The children have long since dusted off their suitcases and moved away, chasing a different kind of life. Today, hundreds and hundreds of people are out in force, wearing Obama t-shirts, Obama belts, Obama bracelets, Obama skirts and waving American flags that have the name Obama printed on them.


OBAMA: And so, to all the other peoples in governments who are watching today from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born...


OBAMA: Know that America is a friend of each nation...


THOMPKINS: In the regional capital of Kisumu at the sporting ground, there's a warm breeze filtering through the crowd. The night sky has been made dull by clouds and there are no stars out, but the young people here - and there are thousands of them - don't mind standing in the dark. They had their eyes trained on the local hero who looks so presidential on television in the frosty snap of a bright Washington afternoon. Maybe it's because expectations here are unreasonably high, that an American leader can bring electricity, schools, hospitals to faraway hamlets along Lake Victoria, or maybe it's because people here are used to their own system. The presidents in Kenya have the power of kings, but they have already begun to call him Obama the Great. Gwen Thompkins, NPR News, Kisumu. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Gwen Thompkins
Gwen Thompkins hosts Music Inside Out on WWNO in New Orleans.
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