LC-Nairobi Report

--Contents-- Writing

Obamania in Kenya!

If Kenyans could have voted, Barak Obama would have won by a landslide. Oh yeah, he DID win by a landslide! And the Library of Congress Office in Nairobi found itself in a unique position to acquire Kenyan and African "Obamabilia" not only for the LOC but for eight AfriCAP participants who had requested the political memorabilia for this very special event. Unfortunately, on the very day when we started to collect in earnest, the Nairobi City Council initiated a crackdown on street hawkers and drove them away. Of course, street hawkers were our main source for the tee shirts, kangas, bracelets, window doo-dads, bumper stickers and pins so we were quite put out with the City Council for this needless inconvenience! But as it happens in many countries with high unemployment and lax government authority, the hawkers reappeared a few days later as resilient and defiant as ever. We snatched up all we could as quickly as possible from various hawkers and created small sets of memorabilia to be rushed to the States in time for inaugural displays.

When I was at the ASA conference, I learned about the probable launching of a new beer label which had not been widely publicized in Kenya. It turns out that "Senator" beer is sold only in the lower-end bars and neighborhoods and is widely considered inferior to other local brands which explains why I, living in a hoity toity 'hood, hadn't heard of it. But the East African Breweries Ltd decided to launch a "special edition" new label for the same "Senator" beer and dubbed it "President" beer. There is nothing on the label to indicate that it's in honor of President Obama (their legal eagles advised against that) but the newspaper advertisements clearly indicate that this brew is for you, Barack! So we did manage to procure some bottles of pombe and, after my husband Henry taste-tested each and every one (he didn't think it was too bad), sent the empty bottles with caps to LOC and the participants. Unless you have a special license, it's illegal to ship alcoholic beverages via APO mail and I always like to remain on the right side of the law. Just today, we received some (plastic) bottles of "Obama Whiskey" with the complementary radio commercial from Zambia via DHL (I guess they don't have restrictions about alcohol!) but other than that, Kenya seems to have the most Obamabilia when compared to other African countries within our office coverage. The response from the AfriCAP participants was overwhelmingly positive judging from their feedback so we're glad that it all worked out well. (Attached is the poster Emory used for their display which I am told went up within a week of receipt!

Obama Whiskey

Indeed, Kenyans are elated about Obama's election and inauguration and the LOC/Nairobi Office staff is no exception. Last night, there was an American Chamber of Commerce event here at a local hotel downtown (the ambassador went to that) and the Counselor for Public Affairs had a big "do" for about 400 people, mainly youths and artistic types at his house. That one we attended and saw it all on a huge flat screen TV. When Obama mentioned his father's village... well, the roar was deafening and one couldn't hear much else for about 3 minutes after that. Obama's step-grandmother attended the inauguration and there was a photo of her and Obama greeting each other in the local newspapers this morning. According to today's papers, there were several other parties here and most bars had coverage. The event showed live here at 8pm, so the timing couldn't have been better for evening viewing, carousing and celebration. As an American living abroad, I haven't seen this much enthusiasm and support for the US since the 9/11 tragedy. It was nice to be suddenly "liked" again! Let's hope it lasts! If it doesn't, I'll down some Obama Whiskey and surely things will improve!

Respectfully submitted by another mama for Obama,

Pamela Howard-Reguindin
Director, Library of Congress Office, Nairobi
Telephone: 254-20-363-6146

Obamania Resources:

Video Discs
  • Obama, vol. 1, Dimba, Michael. (Director); Blaze Africa. (Performer); Stereomax Media. [Nairobi], 2008. 1 videodisc

  • Obama be thy name/ Katrin Ender. Nairobi: Katrin Ender, 2008. Accession No: OCLC: 287870624

Audio Discs
  • Heko Obama. Vol. 3 / Ken Wambua Wa-Maria. [Nairobi]: Yatta Productions, 2008. Accession No: OCLC: 288004293

  • Obama (Seneta) / Tony Nyadundo. [Nairobi]: Omega Sound Cheek, [2006?]. 1 sound disc. Song list

  • Senator Barack Obama hoyee / Jagwasi Productions. Nairobi: Jagwasi Productions, 2008. Accession No: OCLC: 288004347

  • Wang'ni wabiro Obama woud Alego / Lady Moureen. Nairobi: Shalom Communications, 2008. Accession No: OCLC: 288004323

  • Yes we can / Olova Makadem. Nairobi: Makadem, 2008. Accession No: OCLC: 288004309

Political Ephemera
  • orange panel - Hongera Barack Obama image
  • red/white/blue panel - 2008 and image
  • black panel - 2008, double image with American flag in background
  • blue/grey panel - Hongera Barack Obama

Tee Shirts
  • black with Kenya flag colors, black, red, green
  • red with Kenya flag colors black, red, green
  • black with "Change we can believe in"

Small Posters:
  • Barack Obama and wife being tested for HIVAIDS
  • Barack Obama , New Vision Daily, Uganda
  • Public Relations Society of Kenya; Gala Night Programme (2)

Car Bumper Stickers:
  • B. Obama flanked by US flag and Kenyan flag
  • 2008 Gala night & Excellence Awards (2)

Pins with photo image of Barack Obama: (6)