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November 10, 2008

Kenya, cool it


This is starting to get ridiculous.

Less than a week after the election, you can't walk 10 feet in Nairobi without seeing Obama's name. This wasn't the case before, but now that he's won, you can buy Obama campaign buttons in the supermarkets, beaded Masai bracelets with "Obama" stitched into them at the weekly crafts markets, souvenir Obama hundred-dollar bills, mini U.S. flags bearing Obama's face, cell phones and other assorted electronics at one store's "Obama sale" (not sure what this means exactly) -- and the list goes on.

I was at an opening Saturday in Nairobi's Industrial Area for a talented young Luo artist named Kota Otieno. (He's the one in the photo below in the security guard outfit, proving that African artists can be just as inscrutable as American ones). Kota, 28, was exhibiting about a dozen original works. At least three featured Obama's name.

08112008_2I give Kota points for creating these before Obama's victory, but not for understatement. The one at right is called "The Proffet."

While I appreciated Kenya's election-day euphoria as much as the next guy, with the inauguration still 10 weeks away Obama already risks becoming a cliche here -- not unlike the endless Man U and Arsenal logos that plaster all the minibus taxis. This is what's almost happened in South Africa to Nelson Mandela, whose family has tried unsuccessfully to keep his face off of every T-shirt and backpack going. Obama's not there yet, but it's coming.

At least, let's let the man do some governing first.


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I totally agree with you on this. Knowing Kenya, things just have to play out (reallly play out)

What has been bothering me lately? Is there a style fad of short sleeved suits? case in point... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7h2cBS2pisw just asking :-) there is something totally hilarious about that suit.


Oh, my dear beloved Kenya. I am a Kenyan in the U.S., and while most of the people here are moving on from the Obama madness, Kenya, bless its heart, will party until Obama leaves office. Come the next U.S. election, Kenya will still be partying. I think people are making up for the fact that we did not get to celebrate our own election.

Curtis Jackson

Its just amusing that Kenyans took American President elect Obama's victory a little notch up..with a public holiday..and partying I just feel Kenyans need to work harder than take holidays and party and drinking. While people are partying for Obama in Kenya, Americans are working hard to deal with the financial crisis.How about working hard first then partying and drinking? Or use the money that you use to drink to start new business or jobs?

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Somewhere in Africa was written by McClatchy correspondent Shashank Bengali, who covered sub-Saharan Africa from 2005 to 2009. He's now based in Washington, D.C., as a national correspondent.

Read Shashank's stories at news.mcclatchy.com or send him a story idea.


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