World in Awe of Obama’s Historic Moment

KOGELO, Kenya ~ Thousands danced in the Kenyan village where Barack Obama’s father was born and ecstatic revelers toasted at parties worldwide as the United States’ first black president took office on Tuesday.

Obama parties rocked embassies and bars, while many people just stared up from the streets to watch the historic moment on giant screens.

Kogelo grew threefold to 3,000 as tourists joined Kenyans in celebrating the historic moment in the Kenyan village linked so closely to the new US leader.

Watching the Washington ceremony on a screen surrounded by a message reading “Congratulations, our son, our hope,” Josephine Awuor, 30, said Obama’s accession to the world’s most powerful office had changed her life.

“We the people of Kogelo, our minds and our eyes are now open because now we don’t feel so small; we don’t feel of so small value anymore,” she said.

US troops stationed in Iraq also got in on the act.

Sergeant Carla Bruce cried tears of joy and beamed with pride as she watched Obama take office from Iraq’s Camp Liberty.

“I am very proud to see the change in America. To see an African-American rise to such high level,” said Bruce, who is black and has been stationed in Iraq for the last 15 months.

In Berlin, thousands of Germans and Americans turned out for a party thrown by Democrats in the city where Obama in July held the biggest rally of his campaign before a rapturous crowd of 200,000.

Revellers waiting to get in stretched down the street, while the crowd inside watched rapt as his speech was broadcast.

“America was always the example we looked up to and I believe it can become that again,” said Dorothea Kleffel, 46.

“Under Bush all that faith we had in America was trampled on and betrayed but I feel hopeful again tonight. I have my fingers crossed for Obama!”

At a party in a London bar, Americans, Africans and Britons raised a toast to the new president and cheered the big screen when George W. Bush’s helicopter carried him away.

“I was so excited, I had chills watching the entire ceremony,” said Shafee Johns-Wilson, 29, from New Mexico.

“Obama has so much to do to put things back on track but he is heading in the right direction. Thank God Bush has gone.”

Anita Kaddu, 38, from Uganda, said it was “a fantastic day for America and Africa.” She had high hopes for Obama: “I hope he will talk tough to the dictators.”

Politicians and community leaders gathered in London’s black community to launch an initiative to encourage more black lawmakers.

In Madrid, hundreds of people waved red-white-and-blue American flags in a hotel ballroom as they watched Obama being sworn in as the 44th US president.

Sebastian Ingram, a 44-year-old black man from Alabama who works at a computer firm in Spain, said his father had voted for Obama but had died before the inauguration.

“I have come to witness this historic event because it personifies the teachings and everything that my father said about racism, about how this day would one day come,” Ingram said. “He is not here to see it, so I am here to see it for him.”

In Paris, dozens of students and other Americans gathered at the American Business School to watch the inauguration, with red-white-and-blue balloons hanging from the main hall.

Among them was Joan Helbling, 70, who taught at Obama’s high school in Honolulu, Hawaii, where the new president spent seven years.

“He was a very average student and yet he was so intelligent he didn’t have to do much to get by,” said Helbling, whose husband teaches at the school. “I like to think of him as a student of life.”

Descendants of black slaves in Iraq also celebrated Obama’s inauguration.

In Basra, dozens of Iraqis from the Movement of Free Iraqis, the country’s only association of black people, handed out cakes and sweets.

“The blacks in Iraq are so happy they are overflowing with joy and tears as they watch this great victory of President Obama for freedom and democracy,” said the movement’s secretary general, Jalal Dhiab.

“The choice of the Americans of Obama is not only a victory for blacks, but whites and all other races,” he said.

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