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Obama's Kenyan Grandmother Says Will Attend Inauguration
    2008-11-06 21:00:48     Xinhua
U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's 86-year-old grandmother, Sarah Obama, said she will attend her grandson's presidential inauguration ceremony in Washington early next year.

Speaking to journalists after the Democratic presidential candidate won the historic elections, Sarah said she will take Obama's favorite food, chapatti, a traditional Kenyan pastry, with her when she goes to the ceremony.

She is also already planning what to serve the Illinois Senator when he makes his first visit to the village as the leader of the United States.

"We are so happy and Kenya is also celebrating, we are going to feat. This is absolute joy," Sarah said, according to the Daily Nation newspaper on Thursday.

"I am so happy that I don't know if I will die of happiness at the airport," when Obama arrives, Sarah Obama told reporters at her homestead. "It will not only change our lives but the whole of Kenya.''

Africa has been rooting for Obama from the very moment he announced he was running for presidency. The election victory of the son of a Kenyan father was being celebrated and savored all over the continent.

The villagers of Kogelo, who are neighbors of the Obama family, had offered 10 bulls for a feast on Wednesday, and more offers were coming.

Food is the greatest gift in what is some of the most fertile farmland in all of Kenya, where mangos, bananas, corn and tomatoes grow among red-budded flame trees.

Sarah is one of the wives of Obama's grandfather, instead of the natural mother of Obama's father. But Obama treats her just like his natural grandmother.

Sarah is "very happy about what has happened, and she's happy not just for herself but for the whole world," said Obama's Kenyan half-sister, Auma, who served as interpreter and the family's spokesperson.

The people of Kogelo, and the Obama family in particular, have been at the center of a two-year media blitz. Sarah took a nap before facing reporters outside her tidy little blue-roofed house.

The rest of the extended family celebrated by dancing and chanting in the local Luo language, "Obama Biro, Yaw Ne Yo," or " Obama is coming, clear his path.''

Most of Kenya and the rest of Africa took the news of Obama's election as a symbolic victory for the continent.

"I have not been talking to him of late because he was busy on the campaign trial," Sarah said and attributed her grandson's success to hard work, love for people and his oratory skills.

Auma said they don't expect life to change much with an Obama in the White House.

"As a family, we support Barack but we have no expectations. Because we are very, very clear that this is something he is doing in America and that he is an American president," said Auma.

She said that although Kenyans are excited, she realizes that he won't provide any quick fixes for their country.

"He makes it very clear that he is an American and his first priority is to Americans,'' she said. "We have not lacked anything so we don't expect that to change."

Obama's connection to the western Kenyan village of Nyang'oma- Kogelo near Lake Victoria comes through his father, also named Barack Obama.

After winning a scholarship to study in the U.S., the elder Obama enrolled in the University of Hawaii, where he met and married Obama's mother, fellow student Ann Dunham.

After returning to the village when Barack was young, the father died in a car crash in 1982.

After the village held prayers for Obama, who is known as "Wuod Alego,'' (the son of the Alego), the region where the village is located, Sarah said when she does meet Obama, she plans to tell him to initiate development projects in Kenya and the United States, especially those that foster global peace.

Sarah has been the Kenyan face of the Obama family since he became Illinois Senator. She has dined with the high and mighty but maintained her humility and hospitality that has made her the darling of the locals, tourists and journalists.

The president-elect, 47, has visited Kenya three times, most recently in 2006 when he saw an AIDS clinic in Kibera, a slum of 700,000 people in Nairobi, the capital.

With his wife, Michelle, he visited AIDS patients at a hospital in Kisumu, about 70 km southeast of his family's village. He also visited Sarah and a primary school that the village named after him.

Asked whether she is worried about Obama's security following recent threats against his life, Sarah said she has never given it much thought. And although they become part of the United States' first family, Sarah said that they would not like to be treated differently from the rest of the villagers.

"We ought not to be treated differently. We are a normal family and we do not expect anything special," she said.


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