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Ancestral Homeland Celebrates Obama's Win

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Throughout this morning we've been hearing responses to Barack Obama's election from around the world. In a moment we'll go to Mexico City. First, we will travel to Barack Obama's ancestral home in western Kenya. NPR's Gwen Thompkins reports from Kogelo.

(SOUNDBITE OF KOGELO VILLAGERS SINGING)

THOMPKINS: We're up 10 bulls and counting. The villagers, who are neighbors of the Obama family, have offered 10 bulls for a feast later today, and more offers are coming. Food is the greatest gift here. This is some of the most fertile farmland in all of Kenya where mangos, bananas, corn, and tomatoes grow among red-budded flame trees. Sarah Obama is the 86-year-old paternal grandmother of the president-elect and a farmer herself. She says they will eat so much food tonight they'll even be chewing the water.

THOMPKINS: (Foreign language spoken)

THOMPKINS: She says that she's very happy about what has happened. And she's happy not just for herself, but for the whole world.

THOMPKINS: That's Mr. Obama's Kenyan sister, Ouma, as interpreter. The Obama family in particular have been at the center of a two-year media blitz. And as a sign of the strain, or perhaps as a sign of being 86 years old, Sarah Obama took a nap before facing reporters outside her tidy, little, blue-roofed house. She says she plans to attend the inauguration in January, but may die of happiness at the airport. Otherwise, Ouma Obama says they don't expect life to change much with an Obama in the White House.

THOMPKINS: As a family, we support Barack, but we have no expectations because we are very, very clear that this is something that he is doing in America and that he's an American person.

THOMPKINS: The Obamas are of the Luo tribe, and this area of the country is home to the Luos. But in Kenya there has never been a Luo president. For years people here have said a Luo has a better chance of becoming president of the United States then the president of Kenya. And apparently they were right. Gwen Thompkins, NPR News, Kenya. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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