Election night in real Obama territory

23:47, Nov 08 2012

The gridlock traffic from Nairobi airport in to the city isn't bothering our taxi driver today.  He's hasn't checked any of his mirrors since we got in the car an hour ago. He's ignoring MH's cute attempts at polite taxi-talk. Even the billboards featuring provocatively clad East African women isn't diverting a single moment of his attention. He's glued to the radio - it's a dead heat between Obama and Romney and he's not having a bar of it.

The ads come on and our driver flicks back to conversation mode. We are all ears.

"I'm from Kogelo," he tells us.

"That's the same place Obama is from and don't be mistaken, there will be huge celebrations there tonight".

At this point an Obama win is far from certain, and the possible future scenarios of a Romney-led America are beginning to formulate in my mind. 


"You know there are people in Kogelo going to polling booths to vote for Obama today. The booths aren't real, and their votes don't count, but that's what they're doing," our driver continues. I doubted him but turns out he was right!

I'm not sure what to think at this point - the mushy part of me thinks it's sweet - the practical part thinks "what a complete waste of time". 

But that's how connected people are here to the man who will now govern America for a second term. Obama t-shirts, bumper stickers and posters are everywhere, which is saying something for a country where the first thing money is usually spent on is food. But that's because to the people here Barack Obama is a hero. The fact his father was Kenyan overshadows the fact the he himself doesn't have Kenya citizenship, or speak any Kenyan language. Barack Obama's cultural heritage is proof enough for people here that life isn't confined to the borders of this poverty stricken country. 

It reminded me in a roundabout way of our eagerness to claim successful people as being one of our own.

Peter Jackson, Anna Paquin and Keith Urban are a few that spring to mind. They've probably spent just as much time overseas as they have in New Zealand, and had to personally work very very hard to achieve what they have. Or even Olympic athletes who've spent years slogging it out day after day to become the best in their field - then only when it's Olympics time do we all get behind them. Do we then have the right to stake a claim in their success? Interested in your thoughts.

In other news, MH and I are back in Kenya for a freelance job. 

We were lucky enough to be able to visit the orphanage Matt used to work with before he got assigned to Tanzania. The kids are so wonderful and affectionate, and so incredibly grateful for the tiny amount they have.









There's a huge team of expat volunteers and local staff there working incredibly hard - I wish I could stick around to join them. In case you want to check out the charity behind it all, and the Wellington woman who heads the whole thing, visit So They Can.