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  Thursday, July 29, 2004


Obama basks in glory as he rallies support
By Waweru Mugo and Agencies
The US Senate candidate of Kenyan descent, Mr Barack Obama, electrified the crowd at the Democratic Party’s convention held to endorse John Kerry as President Bush’s challenger at the November election.

The keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Obama had a message of hope and optimism.

In his finest hour, the crowd rose to its feet with thunderous applause, as a sea of "Obama" signs waved in the air, and delegates chanted, "Obama! Obama! Obama!"

Born of a Kenyan father, Mr Hussein Onyango Obama, Obama Jnr has been described by Congressman Jesse Jackson Junior as the "best our community has ever produced".

Senator Barrack Obama addresses the US Democratic Party convention in Boston.

So far, he has no opposition and is all set to become senator. And if he wins, Obama — who is currently the Democratic Party Senator of one of Illinois’ districts, a lower position he has held since 1997, would become only the third black senator since the Civil War era.

Kenyans should expect the senior lecturer in the law school at the University of Chicago to retrace his roots and come back to build a simba — a traditional Luo hut — in his father’s Siaya home.

When he visited Kenya last, he showed his grandmother Sarah the spot where he would put up the grass-thatched house before putting up a permanent one "because he was a Jakogelo (member of the Kogelo clan).

Today, Kenya’s Leader of the Official Opposition, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, is set to meet and hold talks with Obama at the ongoing convention.

Mr Kenyatta is attending the convention on the invitation of the National Democratic Institute. He is among senior government officials, diplomats and political leaders from across the world attending the colourful event.

At the Tuesday address, Obama’s speech was described thus: Beautiful, fantastic and powerful.

And he did not forget his roots in Kogelo clan in South East Alego location, Karemo division of Siaya district. Obama, one of the Democratic Party’s rising stars, used his own story in a call for America to "reclaim its promise" as a place of opportunity and "the audacity of hope," CNN reported.

"Let’s face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely," said Obama, who is running for the open US Senate seat in Illinois.

Obama, who turns 43 in August, recalled that his father was a foreign student from a small village in Kenya, who "grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin-roof shack" and that his mother was born in Kansas, the daughter of an itinerant oil rig worker.

"My parents shared not only an improbable love, they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation," Obama told the Democratic National Convention.

"They would give me an African name, Barack, or ‘blessed,’ believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success.

"They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren’t rich, because in a generous America you don’t have to be rich to achieve your potential," he said.

Obama, who was born in Hawaii and grew up in Chicago, is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard University Law School.

"I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that in no other country on earth is my story even possible," said Obama, who has been an Illinois state senator since 1997.

He appears to be a shoo-in for the US Senate after his Republican challenger, Jack Ryan, bowed out of the race in June amid allegations he took his wife to sex clubs. They have since divorced.

The GOP has yet to find a replacement candidate, but as Obama told CNN earlier Tuesday, "three months is a lifetime in politics."

Obama was introduced by longtime Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, who referred to him as "a man who can help heal the divisions of our nation."

Obama said that as he travels around his state, the people he meets "don’t expect government to solve all their problems."


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