With posters splashed on walls, front pages bearing Democratic US presidential candidate Barack Obama’s picture day after day, concerts and plays held in his honour, one would be forgiven for thinking Kenya was the 51st US state.
With the historic US presidential election hours away and the Democratic candidate holding a healthy lead over his Republican opponent John McCain, the East African country where his father was born was holding its breath.
The US election, which could for the first time see an African-American installed in the White House, moved up into the national section of most Kenyan newspapers several days ago.
Although Obama was born in the United States and barely knew his Kenyan father, the US senator enjoys almost unanimous support in Kenya, where he was given a hero’s welcome in 2006.
From bar banters, T-shirts, the latest hit to make the charts, to grafitti and portraits on rickety mini-buses, the new fad in town is Obama.
Early this month a local band launched the Obama for Change song at a Nairobi pub and appealed to US voters: For good change, vote Obama... This is the time, if you miss it it’s gone, the song went.
The country’s top-selling Daily Nation was barely letting itself be distracted by the political aftermath of Kenya’s disastrous own presidential election 10 months ago and has been running long series of articles on Obama.
The Daily Nation, which exceptionally dispatched several correspondents to the United States to cover the November 4 poll, carried this headline today, in huge block letters: “Yes he can”.