The world’s fascination with the U.S. election

Elections — By on June 4, 2008 at 1:14 pm

I hadn’t planned on following up yesterday’s post with another one connected to politics, but I think it’s important to take a moment to reflect on how the U.S. presidential election is being viewed around the world, especially in light of the history that was made yesterday when Barack Obama became the presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic Party.

An obvious place to begin is in Kenya, where Obama’s family roots have sparked an outpouring of interest and celebration. This is how The Standard newspaper of Kenya described events in an article published today:

Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Obama’s victory was a momentous occasion in history. “Barack Obama’s success will inspire us all to break the shackles of ethnic preoccupations in determining political leadership,” Raila said…

Obama’s grandmother, Mama Sarah, 86, led villagers of Alego Kogelo, Siaya, where the senator’s father — Barack Obama Senior — was born, in thanking American voters for nominating her grandchild. At the home of Obama’s father, relatives, neighbours and students celebrated the triumph…

Amid song and dance, Mama Sarah announced she was preparing for an epic journey to America to witness the swearing in ceremony of her grandson as the country’s first black president.

She said: “I will go there to witness the swearing in ceremony, and to pray for him, his family and the people of America for demonstrating unity and love beyond race and colour by picking a black person to lead them.” …

At the nearby Senator Barack Obama-Kogello Secondary School, which neighbours Mama Sarah’s home, students danced, sang and shouted: “Obama Juu! Obama Juu!” The school principal, Ms Yunita Obiero, said she announced the good news to the students at assembly in the morning after hearing of Obama’s victory.

Of course, you’d expect Kenyans to be interested in this historic event, but take a look at the front pages of these newspapers from around the globe.

The Globe and Mail from Toronto, Canada:


El Mundo from Madrid, Spain:


Peru 21 from Lima, Peru:


The United Evening News from Taipei, Taiwan:


Well, you get the idea. Needless to say, this is a story that is fascinating the rest of the world.

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