Out of Africa

Four local Kenyans discuss their hopes for the new administration-and what the change could mean for their homeland.

Jeffrey Kimath
33, chief designer, Jamhuri Wear; from Nairobi, Kenya; lives in Harlem
“That Obama comes from a place I know so well is amazing. I call him my cousin; that’s how much pride I have. Like, 'My cousin is President, that’s hot!’ This is a new beginning for Kenya. And the coincidence of him being elected the 44th U.S. President during Kenya’s 44th year of independence is too hard to ignore.”

Vivian Akinyi Achieng
“Thirtysomething,” caterer; from Kisumu, Kenya; lives in Harlem
“I don’t think Kenyans, or Africans, expect Obama to just help us; we know he has a lot to do here in the States. But there’s so much that has to happen in places like Darfur and Rwanda. As Luos—Obama’s tribe—our heads have gotten a little bigger since he got elected, but in general we see him as someone who’s going to change the way the world thinks of people of color.”

Emmanuel “Babu” Musomi
28, DJ; from Nairobi, Kenya; lives in Bayonne, New Jersey
“Before Obama, you’d get questions like, 'You’re from Kenya. Do you run marathons?’ We call it B.B. and A.B.: Before Barack and After Barack. Now the response goes something like, 'Oh, you’re from Obama’s country! Do you know anybody who’s related to him?’ Barack getting elected shows that anything is possible, even if you’re a minority. I feel really represented.”

Wangechi Mutu
36, artist; from Nairobi, Kenya; lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
“My dream is to see a renewed political vision; I’m hoping Obama can set us on that path. The values that America stands for were completely eroded over the last eight years. I’m interested in being a 'new African’ who is not just the National Geographic kind. We have a responsibility and a desire to be seen as global creatures with a very new take on what is happening in Africa.”—As told to Yolanda Sangweni

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