Obama win is good for Africa, Kenyan church leaders say

Published November 5, 2008

NairobiKenyan church leaders have hailed the election on Nov. 4 of Sen. Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States of America, saying it is a positive turn for Africa that can help steer good governance on the continent.”I want congratulate Obama. I think his winning will bring hope and healing to the whole world,” said Anglican Bishop Joseph Wasonga. “His election has shown that America is truly democratic.”Mr. Obama will be the first mixed-race president in the United States. He was born in Hawaii to a white mother from Kansas and a Kenyan father.In Kogelo village, in the Siaya district of western Kenya, where the president-elect’s  father came from, hundreds of local people converged to celebrate with Mr. Obama’s Kenyan grandmother and other members of the extended family. Clan members were preparing to slaughter cattle and chickens for a feast. “It is a positive turn for Africa,” Bishop Wasonga told Ecumenical News International from his diocese of Maseno West. “He has allowed a school to be named after him. We hope he will find ways of supporting it.”Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki declared Nov.5 a national public holiday in Kenya soon after Republican Party presidential contender John McCain conceded defeat. In the capital Nairobi, Kenyans marched and danced through the streets to sirens and whistles.”We are praying that the voters in the U.S. may realize that there is no greater person than Obama in America, and he deserves to be elected,” Pentecostal Pastor William Otieno had told journalists the day before the U.S. election, as people converged on Kogelo to pray for a win by Mr. Obama. One Kenyan remarked, “It is almost as if we are a state of the U.S.A.”Some Kenyan church leaders say they hope Mr. Obama will push for good governance in Africa and help stabilize countries on the continent that are in turmoil.”Overall, it will be positive for Africa. I hope he will be able to challenge bad governance in Africa,” said Bishop Wasonga. “As if as an America president, if he can put his weight on the demand for good governance in Africa that can be good.”The bishop referred to problems in Zimbabwe, political developments in South Africa and in Kenya, where despite the formation of a national unity government, the ruling alliance has yet to settle in.In South Africa, Rev. Kenneth Meshoe, a member of parliament and president of the  African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), described Mr. Obama’s election as a lesson to Africa.”African leaders would do well to learn from this election to accept outright wins by opposition parties in elections and hand over the reins with grace,” said Mr. Meshoe. “The ACDP hopes his win will improve relations between America and the African continent.”


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