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Anouk Zijlma

Kenya Cheers Obama Win — Other African Nations Barely Crack a Smile

By November 7, 2012

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Sarah Obama, western kenya election victoryThe first time President Obama won the election, Kenyans went wild and declared a national holiday to celebrate the event. Even as a visiting Senator in 2006, Obama was hugely popular. His visit drew thousands of ecstatic supporters everywhere he went, from an HIV clinic in Kisumu to the University of Nairobi. This time around, Kenya's favorite politician has received an equally delighted response, especially in his father's ancestral home of Kogelo in western Kenya.

But the fact is, during his first four years Obama disappointed some Kenyans (and others) who had high hopes that the US would increase aid and trade. After four years, it looks like Bush actually did more to "help" Africa than Obama. But patriotic feelings run high, and just having a US President with Kenyan ancestry is exciting enough for many. Kenya will be holding its own election in March 2013, hopefully the closely fought but fair election in the US will offer a blueprint.

Other African nations are responding to the Obama win with general quiet optimism or simple resignation. Like the Kenyans, many African nations had high hopes for closer relations with the US when Obama was first elected, but this has not panned out. The general sense from South Africa to Tanzania is "great he won, now let's have some more initiatives for Africa".

Ghana will take to the polls next month, so they are also looking at the US election as an example of a transparent democracy, something most citizens are eagerly hoping for. The Egyptians are too busy trying to make ends meet and sort out their own political upheavals to care too much. The Washington Post asked people in Cairo what they thought of the election, this quote says it all: "It does not matter much who wins. The world now is all about interests; where do your people's interests lie? Their interest does not lie with us".

More on Africa's Reaction to President Obama's Win
Muted Reaction in Africa -- Wall Street Journal
How Will The US Election Impact Tanzania - The Citizen
Kenyan Leaders Applaud Obama Win -- All Africa.com
Tunisians Weigh in on a Second Term for Obama - Tunis Live
Nigeria: Why the US Election Matters

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