The Washington Times - January 21, 2009, 01:08AM

The world watched as Barack Obama took the oath of office as the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday, and many foreigners in the District saw it up close.

Ali Pandey wears a Kenyan flag in front on his coat as he walks down Constitution Avenue and 3rd street with his friend, Antony Mwangi.


For the two Kenyans, the President Barack Obama is a “sign of success” for the world because even in a developing country – Kenya, a hometown of Mr. Obama’s father, has shown its truth.

“He is one representing all of us and an opportunity to see the truth to what they have never seen before – it is success, ambition and interests. The success can be achieved for everyone,” Mr. Mwangi said.


Sasha Onyango, the step-grandmother of Mr. Obama, and many members of the Luo tribe were in Washington for the inaugural parade and festivities.

“It’s countless, we can’t even count of how we have people who traveled from Kenya to get here,” Mr. Pandey said.

Across the Atlantic, a lot of celebration is taking place, too.

Londoner Sheere Brooks, who’s staying in Maryland for the next few days, said she hopes the president will improve the country’s image overseas.

“A lot of American students I teach tell me that they feel they are embarrassed to walk around Europe,” Ms. Brooks, a professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

“Americans in the U.K. are having big parties. There are big expectations,” she said.

Even a few islanders were among the crowd.

Two residents, who are with 24 others from the French Caribbean islands, said they relate to the president.

“We think Barack Obama has the same story as us, I identify with him,” said Julien Merion, of Guadeloupe.

“It’s so emotional. It is a symbol of universality and I hope he brings unity and dialogue and less war,” his friend Sophie Feret, said.

Mr. Obama had also his home state of Hawaii represented – person and, in island snacks.

Ben Lowenthal, of Maui, Hawaii, said he’s looking forward to the work of Gen. Eric Shinseki as nominee to Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs and also Sen. Daniel Inouye, who is to chair the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“We love him out there … every one is crazy about him out there,” Mr. Lowenthal said.

He munched on a bag of Arare, bite-sized Japanese rice crackers — a Hawaiian snack — as he tried to keep warm in the cold.


- Kimberly Kweder, online editor, The Washington Times