When Barack Obama, then a new US Senator from Illinois, traveled to Kenya in 2006 (as part of a four-nation tour) to see his grandmother, he was quick to remind people he is an American politician:
I'm the senator from Illinois, not the senator from Kogelo (his father's birthplace), so I have got a different sent of responsibilities ... They (Kenyans) have got some terrific elected officials here and they are accountable to their constituents.
But that has not tempered the expectations in his father's homeland (where the day after his election, was declared a national holiday and where some want him to be President "of the whole world"). The same can be said for the reaction elsewhere on the African continent.
This is clear from a short PBS Frontline documentary series made on the eve of Obama's election. Producers sent Kenyan-American journalist and comedian, Edwin Okong'o, to the country of his birth to find out what people thought of Obama. Kenyans abroad are expected to help their less fortunate relatives, so many of the people Okongo'o meet expect President Obama to help them. Okongo'o encounters Obama beer ("the people's beers"), Obama barbershops, babies named after him, Obama schools, bask in some of the President-Elect's glory, meets a member of the band Extra Golden (we find out why they wrote a tune in his honor), and speaks to Solomon Monyenye, an academic at the University of Nairobi who suggests that in a fractious country where people have withdrawn into ethnic and regional identities, Obama has emerged as a unifying factor. He is the 'model Kenyan.'
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