- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 7, 2012

KOGELO, Kenya — Waving her walking cane and smiling broadly, President Obama’s stepgrandmother celebrated Wednesday as this tiny western Kenyan village danced and rejoiced after he won four more years in the White House.

Kogelo, a dirt-road town where children play soccer in bare feet, was the home of Mr. Obama’s father, and it claims several relatives of the president among its population. The family matriarch is Sarah Obama, who was married to the president’s late grandfather.

“Take the great job that people have given to you and lead them well,” Mrs. Obama advised her relative by marriage after his victory. “They have shown immense love to have voted for you.”

Residents hoisted branches of green leaves, red plastic chairs and even bicycles into the air to celebrate Mr. Obama’s win.

“The community is happy. The community is waking up from their sleep to come and celebrate,” said Kennedy Rajula, the president’s cousin.

Sarah Obama is the second wife of Mr. Obama’s paternal grandfather. Mr. Obama referred to her as “Granny” in his memoir, “Dreams from My Father.” He described meeting her during his 1988 trip to his father’s homeland and their awkwardness as they struggled to communicate.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga said that the election victory was a great day for the U.S. and Kenya.

Obama’s victory has proved that it was not a fluke the first time round, that the American society has changed, that the people of America are now, basically living the American dream of a people who are united by race, by religion, by ethnicity and so on,” Mr. Odinga said.

“People are prepared to work together to build their country.”

Kenya has its own presidential election coming up in March. The country’s last vote in late 2007 turned devastatingly violent, and more than 1,000 people were killed.

Many people in Kenya vote along tribal lines, adding to the tension, but Mr. Odinga said the U.S. vote showed that elections should be decided based on issues.

“This is what we should learn from these elections, American elections, and try to see if we cannot replicate it here in Kenya, that we move away from personality-based campaigns or ethnic-based campaigns and move toward issue-based campaigns,” he said.

John Githongo, a former adviser to Kenya President Mwai Kibaki on ethics and governance who resigned and then exposed hundreds of millions of dollars in government corruption, said Mr. Obama enjoys “an unprecedented level of trust” among the people of the world.

He added that there are some in Kenya who worry the United States will now begin cracking down on corruption and tribalism in Kenya.

“Many leaders thrive on corruption and whipping up tribal sentiments to consolidate political support,” he said.



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