“He was a very easy-going person and also very wise. At that time we were so small we never thought he had the qualities of a leader. He said ‘I want to be president’ and we all thought that was so funny.”
Oetojo said classmates were excited about having the president of the US show up to their next three-monthly reunion, but understood that Obama might be a little busy.
|Obama’s Indonesian classmates said he had the potential to become a US president [EPA]|
“A reunion in the White House is not our target. Our task as classmates is to support him, but if we have the chance, why not?” she said.
“It’s great, it’s great. Our prayers have been answered,” said Sonny Imam Sukarso, a lawyer who admitted he was still “astonished” a black man could rise to become US president.
“We’re proud a friend of ours from primary school became president. Maybe he’ll remember us and we hope he’ll remember his debt to Indonesia and help Indonesia develop.
“When he was small, he was already the right kind of person to become president. He had the spirit of inquiry but he wasn’t arrogant, he would mingle with everyone.”
Yvonne Ngege, reporting for Al Jazeera from Kogelo, said: “Kenya is on fire today. Every street, every village, every town will be taking in the news and there is an eruption of joy, excitement and utter disbelief.”
She said the “the real party starts today and it is likely to go on for weeks, if not months”.
Hundreds of residents of Kogelo erupted into song and dance at the news that the nation’s favourite son had won the poll.
Swinging twigs and chairs in the air, men cheered and clapped while women ululated and shouted “Obama! Obama!” in Kogelo, where his grandmother lives.
“Senator Obama is our new president. God has answered our prayer,” said Washington Obonyo, a pastor who had prayed for an Obama victory on Tuesday and through much of the night.
“I am very happy. I have not slept the whole night, even my wife slept alone as I waited for the results,” Joseph Otieno, a jubilant Kogelo resident, said.
“Because Obama has won, we will have a change in the whole world. And for that I will slaughter a cockrel to celebrate with my family.”
Mwai Kibaki, Kenya’s president, described Obama’s victory as a “momentous” day for Kenya and declared Thursday a public holiday.
He urged Kenyans to “celebrate the historic achievement by Senator Obama and our country”.