Washington, D.C., November 5, 2008 – Calls and e-mails congratulating Barack Obama poured into the Voice of America (VOA) Wednesday as Kenya declared a national holiday and one Nigerian said African leaders "ought to learn" from the United States.
In the village of Kogelo in western Kenya, where Obama's paternal family lives, Sa'id Obama, the president-elect's uncle, told VOA: "People are so happy, so excited. People are dancing. People are in a festive mood. And we are also slaughtering cows, goats, sheep. I mean people are going to feast literally to celebrate Barack's win."
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki declared Nov. 6 a public holiday "to enable all Kenyans to celebrate this historic achievement for President-elect Obama."
The 2008 presidential election attracted worldwide interest in part because Obama and John McCain, his Republican rival, both had strong international ties. Obama spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, and his father was Kenyan. McCain was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
"I am very happy for Obama, president, and the USA, and world too," a man who identified himself as Lahcene from Algeria wrote on VOA's special election website, www.USAVotes2008.com. His sentiments were typical of hundreds received by VOA.
"I like Obama because he is espousing an international policy that is much more negotiable, more flexible and more open to dialogue," wrote Mariela Martín Paesano of Caracas, Venezuela.
"I think Barack Obama is able to convert the USA into a country full of love not only for Americans, but everybody in the world," wrote Akif Maharramov of Azerbaijan.
And Dogara Bahuli of Nigeria said, "African leaders ought to learn from the results and the outcome of the U.S. election, particularly in Nigeria."
VOA, which broadcasts in 45 languages to an estimated 134 million people worldwide, had special election coverage that included nine hours of live television to Pakistan, interactive shows with radio and television stations in Kenya, and more than two dozen television feeds each to TV stations in Indonesia and throughout the Balkans.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 134 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.
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