Election rekindles sweet memories in K’Ogelo village

Friday, November 6th, 2020 00:00 |
Mama Sarah Obama during a past press briefing at her K’Ogelo home in Siaya County. Photo/PD/File

This year’s American presidential elections has rekindled the sweet memories of the November 4, 2008 victory of former US President Barack Hussein Obama at his ancestral home of Nyang’oma K’Ogelo in Siaya County.

Obama who served as the 44th president, had made history by becoming the first ever black American president, after whitewashing his Republican challenger, former Arizona Senator John McCain.

This time round, Biden’s candidature has been closely monitored by the Obama clan in the otherwise sleepy village of K’Ogelo with excitement about his imminent victory palpable among villagers.

When the People Daily visited the home, the larger K’Ogelo clan  members were glued to the TV screens to monitor the outcome, of what is turning out to be one of the most fiercely contested US presidential election.

Here, excited villagers conducted mock elections in which their hugely preferred candidate, Joe Biden was declared the victor, garnering 270 electoral college votes against Donald Trump’s 230.

Obama’s grandmother Mama Sarah Obama was among the excited villagers following the results keenly.

“I have met Biden thrice when I went to America and indeed he is a good man.

Having worked with my grandson for eight years, I am sure that he will make America great,” said Mama Sarah, 98.

Uplift livelihoods

She added: “I hope that he will also help Africa the way my grandson did. He has what it takes to lead and I would only urge him to remain strict and respect God for him to succeed.”

In the nearby K’Ogelo market, four kilometres from Mama Sarah’s home, local traders were also glued to the television sets, closely following the vote counting exercise.

Fred Ojwang, a shoemaker opined; “A win for Biden is like a win for us because he was Obama’s vice-president and definitely, he will still have us at heart the way our son did.”

Molly Achieng, who runs a kiosk at the market said: “We saw a lot of changes during the presidency of our son in this village and we hope that if Biden takes over, we are likely to see more considering the fact that our son campaigned for him.”

Fredrick Ochieng, a boda boda operator expressed optimism that a Biden win would help uplift the livelihoods of the villagers.

“We hope that if he becomes president, he will not forget us. Even though he will be serving the Americans, as the people who come from the land of his former boss, we have hope in him.”

But Malik Obama, the former US president’s half brother dismissed the presidential election as a sham.

Malik who openly campaigned for President Trump’s re-election said the results, showing Biden heading to victory were not credible.

“The election has been rigged. Where on earth have you seen the declaration of America’s presidential election taking days before the winner is declared. This is pure theft,” Malik said.

But in a quick rejoinder, Obama’s uncle Said Obama dismissed Malik as a disgruntled character who was jealous of his younger brother’s success: “It is in the public domain that he is always jealous of his brother and it is not strange because he has been supporting Trump.”

Nyang’oma Kogello, the once sleepy village in Siaya County was one of the greatest beneficiaries of Obama’s two terms in office. 

Nyang’oma K’Ogelo was one of the greatest beneficiaries of Obama’s two terms in office.

Thousands of local and international tourists, scholars and researchers flocked the village daily to meet the family and visit the grave where the former president’s father, the late Barack Obama senior was buried.

Mama Sarah turned into a celebrity overnight and enjoyed VIP security that accompanied her everywhere she visited.

Even though she never attended any school, the granny was conferred a honorary doctorate degree  from the Great Lakes University thanks to her philanthropic work in the village.

The nearby Nyang’oma secondary school that has since been renamed Senator Barack Obama Secondary School received a major facelift during the Obama presidency.

In July 2018, the former president also visited the village to officially open the Sauti Kuu Foundation Resource Centre, a modern facility  founded by his half sister Dr Auma Obama.

The facility’s aim is to create a platform for disadvantaged children and young people worldwide to enable them unleash their potential.

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